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Holiday Pay

All workers and employees are entitled to paid leave or holiday pay. Find out about the difference between paid holiday and holiday pay, and how both should be calculated.

Last updated: 14 February 2024

All employees and workers are entitled to paid holiday, or holiday pay for those on hourly paid contracts, based on a statutory entitlement of 5.6 weeks’ (28 days) per year.

Full-time employees get 28 days’ paid holiday per year, which can include bank holidays, as a minimum entitlement. Part-time employees get a pro-rata equivalent (e.g. someone on a 50% contract gets a minimum of 14 days’ paid holiday).

Because of their patterns of work, hourly paid workers do not usually get paid holidays. Instead, they receive their holiday pay entitlement as part of the hourly rate (see rolled-up holiday pay below). This ensures that they are compensated in line with the same 5.6-week entitlement, but through additional payments rather than paid time off.

Self-employed individuals do not get paid holiday or holiday pay.

Given these differences, it is important to understand your employment status in order to understand your entitlement to paid holiday or holiday pay. We recommend that members read our guide to Employment Status for Instrumental and Vocal Teachers.

Common issues with holiday pay

While paid holiday is relatively straightforward for employers to administer, holiday pay for hourly paid workers typically causes more problems. The MU receives many queries from members about holiday pay, ranging from it not being paid at all to incorrect payments and a failure to explain what is being paid and when.

The following guidance therefore focuses primarily on holiday pay for hourly paid workers, a category that includes many visiting/peripatetic music teachers.

The Government has clarified how holiday pay should be calculated from 1 April 2024. The following guidance applies from this date onwards. The calculation formula for holiday years beginning before 1 April 2024 may be different – contact the MU if you need help with this.

Holiday pay entitlement for hourly paid workers

Holiday pay for hourly paid workers accrues at 12.07%, a figure that corresponds to the 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday entitlement that a regular employee receives. This means that if an hourly paid worker works 50 hours in a month at £40 per hour, which totals £2,000, they will earn an additional £241.40 of holiday pay, because 12.07% of £2,000 is £241.40.

Rolled-up holiday pay is when employers do not pay holiday pay on top of the agreed hourly rate but instead include it in the rate. This was previously illegal but is now permitted, and while employers are not obliged to adopt this approach, they have the option to do so. However, rolled-up holiday pay must still be clearly itemised on pay slips. We advise members to ask whether holiday pay is rolled up before signing any new contract.

While the above guidance describes the basics of holiday pay, various additional factors can complicate it. Employers should explain their approach to holiday clearly to ensure that all parties understand what will be paid and when. Contact the MU if you have any concerns about your holiday pay.

Rules around paid holiday

For employees who receive paid holiday, the following is useful to know.

Workers must be allowed to carry holiday forward into the next holiday year if they have not taken it because they were on maternity leave, adoption leave, shared parental leave, ordinary parental leave, paternity leave or parental bereavement leave. This requirement applies to the entire 5.6 weeks’ annual leave entitlement.

Annual leave can be carried over where a worker has been unable to take it due to long-term sickness absence. However, carried-forward holiday entitlement must be taken within 18 months of the end of the holiday year in which it was accrued.

Workers who have not had a reasonable opportunity to take holiday must be allowed to carry it over. There is no ceiling on the accumulation of carried forward annual leave.

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The MU has a strong community of teaching musicians, with over 12,000 members. We advise music teachers on specific topics, including pay and contractual issues. Through our resources and employment advice, we support and create careers in music teaching.

Get support as a music teacher through MU membership