Human Resource Solutions


Free Employee Policy Templates for Small Businesses

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Updated for 2024

Statutory and Non-Statutory  Leave

Annual Leave, Special Leave and Bereavement Leave

What leave are staff entitled to?

Your staff may request time off for a variety of reasons. Some of these are an entitlement under current legislation, but other leave can be discretionary or limited by the employer. Here is a list of leave that employees may request and employers responsibilities under the law for each. Please note Parental Leave entitlements (maternity, paternity, adoption, parental and shared parental leave) are dealt with on our Parental Leave page and so are not include here.

Our Special and Bereavement Leave Policy template outlines in detail what employees are entitled to and how they should go about requesting this leave including the necessary notice requirements. This can be downloaded and adapted for any business.

Paid Annual Leave

Workers in the UK have a statutory entitlement to at least 5.6 weeks paid holiday a year. This is the equivalent of 28 days for someone who works a 5 day week and is pro-rated for part-time staff. Use this holiday entitlement calculator to work out a part-time worker’s leave.

This entitlement applies not only to normal employees, but also agency staff and those who work on a more casual basis with irregular or zero hours based working arrangements. The entitlement can include the 8 UK annual bank holidays per year.Holiday pay calculation is straightforward for workers who work fixed hours - if they take a week's worth of leave they will receive their usual salary for that. A weeks holiday pay for shift workers with set hours is worked out as the average number of weekly fixed hours they completed in the previous 52 weeks, using their average hourly rate.

For zero-hour contract employees or casual staff, a week's holiday pay is calculated as the average pay the worker received in the previous 52 paid weeks (or the number of weeks they have worked for the employer if less than that).

Family and Dependant Leave

Employees are entitled to take time off to deal with an emergency situation involving someone who depends on them (a dependant). Dependants are a spouse or partner, children, parents, anyone living in their house as a member of their family (not lodgers) or anyone who reasonably depends on their help in an emergency (such as an elderly relative or neighbour).

Employees are allowed 'reasonable' time off to deal with the emergency and make any arrangements that are needed. No time limit is set in the legislation, but given the short-term nature of such emergencies, it is expected that, in general, no more than 1 -2 days leave should be required to address the problem.

There's no limit to the number of times an employee can request Family and Dependant Leave, provided it is for real emergencies. All family and dependant leave is unpaid unless specifically agreed otherwise by the employer.

Carer Leave

From 6 April 2024 employees have an entitlement to one week of unpaid leave annually for those employees who care for dependants with long term needs. This right to leave will be available to all employees from day one of employment. “Long term needs” is defined as:

  • Anyone with a condition that meets the definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010
  •  Illness or injury (physical or mental) that requires or is likely to require care for more than three months
  • Old age

Bereavement Leave

Bereavement leave is a set period of time off work following the death primarily of a family member or in some circumstances of a loved one outside the immediate family circle. The time off allows the employee to undertake any necessary practical arrangements to deal with the death and to start the grieving process. There is no actual legal entitlement to Bereavement Leave in the UK, and if granted by the employer, no set time period they must allow. However most employers are sympathetic to such a situation and allow 1-3 days leave depending on the circumstances. Bereavement Leave is unpaid unless specifically agreed otherwise by the employer.

From April 2020 special legal provisions have been made to allow employees who suffer the loss of a child, two weeks statutory Parental Bereavement Leave. This is fully covered in our Parental Bereavement Leave Policy template on our Parental Leave page.

Public Duty Leave

Employees have the right embodied in legislation to unpaid time off for positions which undertake certain public duties and services. These positions are:

  • a magistrate
  • a local councillor
  • a member of any statutory tribunal (for example an employment tribunal)
  • a member of a health authority
  • a member of a school council or board in Scotland
  • a member of the Environment Agency or the Scottish Environment Protection agency
  • a member of the prison independent monitoring boards (England or Wales) or a member of the prison visiting committees (Scotland)
  • a member of Scottish Water or a Water Customer Consultation Panel

Employees in such public offices should be granted reasonable time off to carry out the responsibilities of the position, such as attending meetings, training events or representation duties etc.

In considering each request for Public Duty Leave the employer can take into account not only the duties and time off required to carry them out, but also the impact of the absence on the business and the amount of time the employee has already had for such duties. The employer may refuse to grant some or all the requested leave if it considers it to be unreasonable.


If an employee is called up for jury service, they should be granted appropriate Public Duty Leave. Jury service normally lasts for 10 working days but may be longer. Where an employer considers that an employee's absence on jury service will be severely detrimental to the operation of the business, the employee may be asked to make an application for deferral.


Leave for jury service is unpaid, however employees can seek reimbursement from Her Majesty's Courts Service (HMCS) for expenses and loss of earnings.

Other Statutory Leave Requests

Employees who find themselves under notice of redundancy and who have two years continuous service with the employer at the end of the notice period, are entitled to reasonable time off to look for another job or to arrange training to help find another job. Employees should be paid for time taken off up to a maximum of 40% of one weeks wage in total regardless of the amount of Special Leave taken throughout the redundancy notice period.

Free Annual Leave Policy Downloads

Annual Leave Policy

A Comprehensive policy template setting out the Company policy on paid annual leave, employee entitlements and how this should be requested.

Useful Links

Calculate Holiday Entitlement
An online tool to allow calculation of full year and part year annual leave entitlement for UK employees.