Fadumo Ismail

Fadumo Ismail


June 20, 2023

An introduction to Statutory Leave and Pay

This article thoroughly explains what the types of Statutory lLave and time off, and how to compensate an employee.

An introduction to Statutory Leave and Pay

There are different types of leave available to eligible employees in the UK. Below we look at the time off and pay entitlements for  types of leave.

Statutory Leave and pay entitlement

All workers have the right to paid holiday, known as Statutory Annual Leave, regardless of whether you work:

  • Full-time
  • Part-time
  • On a zero-hours contract

The amount of days of holiday pay and time off you will be entitled to depends on:

  • How many days (in a year) and hours you work
  • Any additional agreements you have come to with your employer

The legal minimum of Statutory Leave is 28 days in the UK, including the 8 statutory bank holidays, unless the contract stipulates that an employee does not get these days. It is important employers provide a written contract in order to protect both any employer and employee.

Employers also have the power to grant employee’s extra days than what each employee is already entitled to, and any information pertaining to an employee’s statutory leave should be contained in the contract.


Part time workers are entitled to a pro rata amount of leave, which is 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday, but this will usually be fewer than 28 days.

Employees do not need to have worked for a minimum period of time before they accrue time off.

Different working hours

Employees who work irregular hours (like shift work or term-time) are entitled to paid time off for every hour they work.

People can access the Government website to calculate how many days they are entitled to.

Statutory Pay entitlement

Holiday pay is either based on salary, or on the last 12 weeks average earnings if earnings are variable. The position is more complicated for those who usually receive commission based pay but such workers must not be disadvantaged by taking their leave.

Staff who are off sick or on maternity leave still accrue the right to paid holiday.

For more information, an employee can access the UK Government website.

Parental leave

Most people need to work to earn a living, in which most of their time is occupied by working and travelling to work. Alongside this, most people often desire to start a family which requires time out to care and tend to the needs of children, or rather, possess a moral responsibility to care for other family members, including spouses, parents and grandparents.

With such pressures on workers to combine caring for dependents and working, the work/life balance and division between demanding work and moral responsibilities can sometimes pose great difficulty. Thus, legislation has been put in place to alleviate some of the pressures and attempts to establish a better work/life balance for employees.

There are different leave entitlements and pay in place for eligible employees.

Statutory Maternity Leave

All female employees can take up to 26 weeks’ of ‘Ordinary Maternity Leave’ and 26 weeks of ‘Additional Maternity Leave’, making a year in total with 52 weeks off.

Women may choose the date in which their Statutory Maternity Leave begins, however the earliest that leave can be taken is 11 weeks before the expected week of childbirth, unless the child is born earlier than anticipated.
If the baby is born prematurely, the employee must provide employers with evidence, such as the birth certificate signed by doctors and midwives to confirm the date of birth. Employees will also still qualify for Statutory Maternity Leave if the baby dies after being born.

Statutory Maternity Leave is also automatically triggered when the employee is absent from work, within the four weeks of the expected week of childbirth for reasons related to the pregnancy.

Statutory Maternity Leave is also compulsory 2 weeks after birth or extended to 4 weeks if the employee is a factory worker.

Upon providing required evidence, pregnant employees are also entitled to leave for antenatal care and responsibilities. As such, in order to qualify for maternity leave, the employee must inform the employer of the details pertaining to the pregnancy, such as:

  • the expected week of childbirth
  • the date in which the employee intends to begin the maternity leave, as soon as reasonably practical.

Maternity Pay entitlement

Employees can expect to receive pay for 39 weeks of their maternity leave. They receive 90% of their average weekly earnings before tax for the first 6 weeks, and £172.48 or 90% of their average weekly earnings (depending on which is the lower amount) for the remaining 33 weeks.

Statutory Paternity Leave 

Fathers also possess similar statutory rights to paid leave on the birth or adoption of a child, similar to the conditions under maternity leave. Under Statutory Paternity Leave, employees can choose to take either 1 or 2 weeks off, within 56 days of the birth (or adoption). The leave cannot start before the birth (or adoption) and the start date of the statutory leave period must be either:

  • The date of birth of the baby
  • An agreed number of days after the birth, or
  • An agreed number of days after the expected week of childbirth

Fathers must also provide notice to the employer of an intention to take paternity leave. In order to qualify for paternity leave, employees must be the:

  • Actual biological father of the child
  • Husband or partner of the mother
  • Child’s adopter, or
  • Intended parent (for births via surrogacy)

The right also applies to same-sex relationships. 

Paternity Pay entitlement

Employees can expect to receive pay for 39 weeks of their paternity leave; 90% of their average weekly earnings before tax for the first 6 weeks, and £172.48 or 90% of their average weekly earnings (depending on which is the lower amount) for the remaining 33 weeks.

Statutory Unpaid Parental Leave

Eligible employees can take unpaid parental leave to look after a child. Employment rights including pay, holidays and Return to work are protected during parental leave.

Statutory Parental Bereavement Leave 

Employees as working parents, who lose a child under the age of 18 or have a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy have the right to take two weeks paid bereavement leave. 

Before the introduction of 2020 regulations, employers were not obliged to offer their bereaved employees leave and were only entitled to unpaid leave for emergency reasons. With parental bereavement now in place, employees can take up to 2 weeks leave with the minimum period being one week.

An employee must give notice for Parental Bereavement Leave which are minimal if employees request to take it within eight weeks of their child’s death. An employee has 56 weeks to take the bereavement leave which starts from the date of the child’s death and when providing notice, employees must inform employers of:

  • The date of the child’s death or the stillbirth
  • When they intend to begin their Bereavement Leave, and
  • How long the leave will be – either 1 or 2 weeks

Employees are able to give notice informally, such as by phone, text message or email which cannot be challenged by employers who may request notice in writing evidence of entitlement for leave or further details about the employee’s connection to the baby or child.

Statutory Parental Bereavement Pay is available to grieving parents and an employee must claim for it within 28 days starting from the first day of the week the employee wishes to claim for. Entitled employees will then receive around £156.66 a week or 90% of their typical weekly earnings, which will also be subject to deductions for tax and National Insurance alongside normal wages. 

An employee’s terms and conditions remain unchanged during their bereavement leave, except for their remuneration and employees are protected from suffering any detrimental treatment due to taking such leave. Dismissal from employers on such grounds, or on grounds pertaining to the possibility of an employee intending to take bereavement leave will be automatically unfair. 

Bereavement Pay entitlement

The amount an employer offers to pay someone on bereavement leave, may depend the company policy or an employee's contract.

For more advice, visit Acas website.

The various legal rights to take paid and unpaid leave and the right to ask for adjustments to working hours are all enforceable by making complaints to employment tribunals.

Statutory Sick Leave 

In line with legislation, employers must pay Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to employees and workers. Under the eligibility conditions, employees must:

  • Have had an employment contract
  • Be off sick for at least 4 days in a row (including weekends and non-working days)
  • Earn an average of at least £123 per week
  • Provide relevant evidence where employers so require

The weekly rate of SSP is £99.35 a week which can be paid for up to 28 weeks and is paid for the days employees usually work, subject to tax and NI deductions similar to wages. Agency or casual workers may also be entitled to SSP if they meet the eligibility conditions above. 

Employees will not qualify for SSP if they:

  • Are self-employed
  • Have already had 28 weeks of SSP
  • Are receiving Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance 
  • Are receiving or had Employment and Support Allowance in the last 12 weeks
  • Are pregnant and the baby is due within the next 4 weeks, or the illness is pregnancy related
  • Are working outside of the EU and not making National Insurance contributions

If there are disagreements over SSP, employees can raise their concerns with their employers pertaining to whether SSP should have been paid, and how much SSP should have been paid. If the disagreement has not been resolved informally, then employees can appeal and the issue can be raised to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

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The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.

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