As an employer, it’s your duty to make sure you meet all of your obligations to your employees. For example, you have a duty to provide a safe workplace for employees. 

It’s also an employer’s duty to ensure employees are aware of the leave they are entitled to. The kind and amount of leave an employee can take will depend on a number of factors – it’s best to understand the fundamentals of leave first. 

Read on to learn more. 

What Are The Different Types Of Leave In The UK?

There are a number of different types of leave employees can apply for. We’ve listed some of the most common types usually taken by the average employee below. 

Annual Leave

Annual leave is the paid holiday time employees are entitled to. Most workers can get up to 5.6 weeks worth of paid annual leave. 

The calculator for the exact amount of leave can differ based on an employee’s work schedule i.e for part time workers or casual employees. You can use this Holiday Calculator to calculate your holiday entitlement for a more precise answer. 

Sick Leave

Sick leave is the days off an employee is able to take when they are not feeling well. If an employee takes more than 7 consecutive days off work, they will need to provide their employer with a fit note, which is usually signed by a healthcare professional deeming they are unfit to work. 

For those that are eligible, statutory sick pay is available for up to 28 weeks. 

Maternity Leave

Maternity leave is the time those that are expecting a newborn are able to take off. Employees that qualify for maternity leave are able to take 26 weeks of ordinary maternity leave and 26 weeks of additional maternity leave, totalling up to 52 weeks of maternity leave. Maternity leave is usually paid. However, not the same as a normal salary with those taking the leave generally getting 90% of their usual salary. 

Paternity Leave

Paternity leave is given under the same circumstances as maternity leave, except this time, it’s for fathers. Usually employees are entitled to about 1-2 weeks of paternity leave. 

Can I Take Unpaid Leave From Work?

An employee’s ability to take unpaid leave from work will depend heavily on their employer. There is no statutory right that allows employees to take unpaid leave off work. Therefore, their ability to take unpaid leave will depend on what their employment contract says and the discretion of their employer. 

Example
George has used up all his sick leave and annual leave. However, he’s caught the flu and will need to take a few days off work. He talks to his employer, who thinks it’s best that George stays at home while he gets better and agrees to give him unpaid time off. 

What Is Garden Leave?

Garden leave is taken when an employee is leaving their current employment or their employment has been terminated, however, the employer is concerned about continuing to expose them to the internal processes of the business. 

Garden leave essentially has an employee take time off during the period between handing in their resignation letter and their employment officially ending. This is done to make sure the employee does not access potential confidential information or files which could be used against the business. 

In order to enact a garden leave, it’s important to look at the details of the employees contract regarding their employment. A restraint of trade provision or a Non-Compete Agreement can be useful in allowing a garden leave to progress. However, without the right contractual terms, an employee could easily accuse an employer of breaching their obligations. 

If you are unsure about whether or not you can use garden leave for an employee, it’s best to seek professional legal advice.  

Can I Take Study Leave?

Study leave is when an employee is engaging in training or study and may need to take time off to complete their course. Time off for study is usually unpaid unless the employer and employee have a different agreement. In addition to this, not all employees can take time off for study. In order for a leave to qualify as time off for study, certain requirements need to be met:

  • The course or training must aid the employee in doing their job better 
  • The employee need to have been with their place of employment for a minimum of 26 weeks 
  • They must work in an organisation with at least 250 people
  • Finally, the individual taking time off neds to actually be an internal employee of the company, rather than a contractor

Finally, study leave does not apply to those that are of school age, young people expected to undertake education or training or already approved for paid training. Agency workers and those in the armed forces are also not permitted to apply for study leave. 

Can I Force My Employees To Take Annual Leave?

There are limited circumstances where employees can be forced to use their annual leave. These circumstances occur when: 

  • The employee has accumulated excess leave
  • The company will be shutting down temporarily 

Even when these situations arise, it’s important to tread carefully to make sure you are still doing right by your employees as an employer. 

If an employee has excess leave, then it must be considered a reasonable direction to force them to take their annual leave. For example, the employee taking leave aligns with the business’ operations and a former agreement with that staff member. An employee being forced to take annual leave will also need ample notice.

If a company is shutting down temporarily (for example, over the Christmas holidays) and need to force their employees to take annual leave, their employment contracts must allow this first. 

What Other Entitlements Do Employees Have?

Employee rights extend beyond leave – there are a number of entitlements employers need to be aware of. For example, employees have the right to minimum wage, a safe working environment, protection as whistleblowers, breaks and a workplace that is free of discrimination

There are also a number of different types of leave that haven’t been covered in this article – you can look here for more information. 

As an employer, not all employees will be the same. Therefore, the entitlements may differ somewhat based on individuals. In order to make sure all your practices as an employer are compliant, it’s always wise to seek the help of an expert employment lawyer.  

Key Takeaways

Everyone needs to take breaks from work at some point and it’s an employers duty to make sure employers have all the leave entitlements necessary. To summarise what we’ve discussed: 

  • There are a number of different types of leave some main ones being: annual leave, sick leave, maternity leave and paternity leave
  • An employee’s ability to take unpaid leave off work depends on their contract and employer 
  • Garden leave is given to those employees who are leaving the business for a competitor and it’s usually a precaution-
  • Study leave is usually unpaid and only available under certain circumstances
  • Forcing employees to take their annual leave can usually only be done if there is a company shut down or they have accumulated excess leave 
  • There are a number of employee entitlements employers need to be aware of such as minimum wage and breaks. 

If you would like a consultation on different types of leave, you can reach us at 08081347754 or [email protected] for a free, no-obligations chat.

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