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  • Leave Management

A comprehensive guide to different types of leave at work

Johanna Dumas

When we talk about "time off," the first type of time that comes to mind is paid time off. But in reality there are a myriad of different types of leave, some very well known, others much less so. What are the different types of leave available in the UK? We have made you a non-exhaustive list with, for each type, a short definition.

Statutory annual leave

Almost all workers in the UK are entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid holiday a year. In other words, most workers who work a 5-day week must receive at least 28 days' annual leave a year. For part-time workers, they are also entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid holiday a year. So for instance, if an employee works 3 days a week, they will be entitled to 3 x 5.6 = 16.8 days of paid holidays a year. Keep in mind, employers can also include bank holidays as part of statutory annual leave. All in all, the amount of paid holidays are calculated on a holiday accrual basis, which is also why both terms are used interchangeably.

Sick leave

Employees can take time off work when they're ill until they can recover. Moreover, if they fall sick shortly before or during their paid holiday leave, they can take those days as sick leave instead. However, if they're ill for more than 7 days, they must provide a doctor's note they can return to work, it's also called "fit note". In terms of statutory sick pay, employers are required to pay  £95.85  for up 28 weeks of sick pay if employees are too ill to work, as long as employees qualify for SSP. For more details on SSP, read this article on statutory sick pay.  A sick tracker can easily help companies to manage sick leave requests from their team members.

Sabbatical leave

Unlike sick leave or annual leave, a sabbatical leave is a benefit provided by companies, and not a right. Sabbatical leave, is a benefit that allows employees to take additional time off work besides paid holiday and sickness while still being employed by the company. Employees can take sabbatical year for a variety of reasons, including travelling, gain new skills, volunteer, or just to unwind from work. Whether sabbatical leave is paid or unpaid remains at the discretion of the company.


Paternity leave

In the UK, the law states fathers are entitled to one or two consecutive weeks of maternity, paternity, or a combination of both from the day the baby is born. However, there are some requirements the employee must meet to qualify for paternity leave and it should be taken within 56 days of the birth or due date. Learn more about the regulations and benefits in this article on paternity leave.

Maternity leave

As for mothers, the statutory maternity leave is 52 weeks. It's divided in two parts:

  • Ordinary maternity leave: during the first 25 weeks
  • Additional maternity leave: last 26 weeks

Whether the whole 52 weeks of maternity leave are taken, depends on the mothers' decision. Nonetheless, taking 2 weeks off after the baby is born is mandatory.

As opposed to fathers, mothers can start taking maternity leave 11 weeks before the expected childbirth.

Finally, mothers must notify employers with at least 8 weeks' notice if wanting to change the return to work date.

Bereavement leave

Bereavement leave is a type of leave that is provided to employees when they lose a loved one. The tricky part is, there is no statutory bereavement leave in the UK, although most employers grant it. This is because the law defines "emergency situation" as any emergencies involving the death of a dependent and states that the leave entitlements should be "reasonable". Learn more details and why your company should always grant bereavement leave.

Compassionate leave

Most people confuse bereavement leave with compassionate leave, but they are not the same. Compassionate leave, also known as time off for dependants, is a type of leave granted to employees when someone close to them has a life-threatening illness or injury and its meant to be used for taking care of a dependent or close family member. Since both terms are loosely described by the law, it is important to have a clear policy in place to manage them correctly.

How to keep track of all leave types?

Are you responsible for the day-to-day management of your teams' leave? Do you regularly feel overwhelmed by the paperwork to fill out, the validation emails to send and the spreadsheets? An absence management software, like kiwiHR, would surely be a good solution for you.

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