Holiday Entitlement Down Under
On holiday recently, I got speaking to a lovely couple from Australia…..sadly, about employment law! We were all talking about needing a relaxing holiday which is why we found ourselves where we were. However, the surprising thing was that they mentioned they needed the holiday due to one of them starting a new job 18 previous and that they were not permitted to take holiday during their first year of employment. Imagine my surprise coming from the UK where many employers have a ‘use it or lose it’ policy and where employees have a minimum yearly entitlement to holiday.
The Working Time Regulations (1998) implement the European Working Time Directive into GB law and states that employees are entitled to the statutory minimum holiday each year (20 days plus public and bank holidays or 28 days including the public and bank holidays). If they start work part way through the holiday year, the employee’s holiday will be calculated on a pro-rata basis and they should take their holiday by the end of that holiday year. In Australia, full-time and part-time workers are entitled to a minimum of 4 weeks of paid annual leave for every 12 months of continuous service. To imagine a year with no holiday entitlement in the UK is a very difficult concept, and not just because of its illegality!
It came as another shock when the couple told me they had spent 6 weeks travelling on their honeymoon. I started wondering how they had been able to do this. I though they must have a generous holiday entitlement, that they had taken unpaid holiday or that they had a very generous employer allowing them to take such a large block of time off. They confirmed that in Australia, you accrue your holiday continuously and it is always rolled over. So, you can be entitled to 28 days holiday each year and refuse to take holiday for 2 years and then in year 3, you will have 84 days holiday to take. This of course does not get around the problem of when these days should be taken (almost 17 weeks of holiday in on year is quite a lot!) but the concept of being able to roll over all holiday from one year to the next and not take any holiday at all in one year is an interesting one.
Are we lucky in the UK having a statutory minimum entitlement to holiday which we are entitled to take? Would it be better to allow a complete rollover of holiday if employees choose to build their holiday up? Would this cause problems for businesses or would it assist? Please do join the discussion.