Holiday pay for irregular hours staff
(Zero hour contracts)

As of April 1, 2024, amendments to the Working Time Regulations 1998 will significantly alter holiday entitlement for irregular hours staff and part-year staff. It is imperative that you take appropriate action in response to these changes.


The landscape of employment law regarding holiday pay entitlement is poised for a significant shift, particularly impacting irregular hours staff and zero-hour contract workers. With amendments to the Working Time Regulations 1998 set to take effect on April 1, 2024, employers face a mandate to recalibrate their approach to holiday entitlement for these distinct employee categories. These changes represent a response to the evolving nature of employment patterns, aiming to ensure equitable treatment and protection for workers whose hours vary unpredictably or who operate within part-year contracts. In this article, we delve into the details of these impending alterations, exploring the implications for employers and the requisite actions they must undertake to adhere to the revised regulations.

Background of the New Rules

The forthcoming modifications stem from a recognition of the inadequacies within the existing framework concerning holiday pay entitlement for irregular hours staff and those engaged in zero-hour contracts. Historically, such workers have encountered challenges in accessing their rightful holiday entitlements due to the fluctuating nature of their employment arrangements. The amendments seek to address these disparities by instituting standardized mechanisms for calculating holiday accrual and payment, thereby ensuring greater consistency and fairness across the workforce. As such, the changes represent a pivotal step towards fostering inclusivity and safeguarding the rights of all employees, irrespective of their contractual arrangements or working patterns. In the subsequent sections, we elucidate the specifics of these regulatory adjustments and delineate the steps employers must take to comply with the impending mandates.

Identification of Affected Employees

Initially, you must ascertain whether your zero-hours employees fall within the categorization of irregular hours or part-year workers. Irregular hours pertain to workers whose contracted hours fluctuate in each pay period, a characteristic typical of zero-hours contracts. Part-year workers, on the other hand, are those contractually obligated to work only for part of the year, with no work or pay during the remaining period, such as term-time workers.

Determining Holiday Year

Furthermore, it is crucial for you to determine the timeframe of your holiday year. The amendments taking effect on April 1, 2024, will apply to holiday years commencing on or after that date. Consequently, if your holiday year spans from April to March, the changes will be immediately applicable. Conversely, if your holiday year follows a different schedule, such as the calendar year (January to December), implementation of the changes will be postponed until January 2025.

Contractual Adjustments

Once the affected employee groups and the applicable timing are identified, you must proceed to update the employment contracts accordingly. Despite the legal modifications, consultation remains a requisite for contractual changes, necessitating agreement from the affected employees. In instances where agreement cannot be reached, formal consultation with employees and potential contractual adjustments may be necessary.

Specific Changes Required

The adjustments you must implement include:

  • Accrual of Holiday Entitlement: Irregular hours and part-year workers will accrue holiday based on 12.07% of the hours worked in each pay period for holiday years starting on or after April 1, 2024.
  • Holiday Pay Disbursement Options: You will have the option to choose between two methods of paying holiday pay to irregular hours and part-year workers:
    • Traditional booking and payment upon leave taken.
    • “Rolling up” holiday pay into each pay packet, with a mandatory uplift of pay by at least 12.07% each pay period. This method requires a separate line on the payslip detailing the included holiday pay, and you must ensure workers utilizing this method actually take leave.

Alignment with Legal Requirements

In light of these changes, you must review their holiday provisions to ensure compliance with the amended regulations. The transition, particularly regarding the 12.07% calculation, may pose significant challenges in terms of comprehension for some employees and thus necessitates clear explanation and communication.

Holiday pay for irregular hours staff
Holiday pay for irregular hours staff

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