Should holiday be calculated in hours or days?

May 8, 2023 | Time Off Work

With increasing frequency, the option or possibility of calculating holiday entitlement in hours is being adopted or considered, rather than in the traditional expression of a number of days. With that in mind, in what circumstances and for what reasons should hours be used, and when would days be better?

Holiday can often be a complex aspect of employment, for both managers and employees alike. People are used to the concept of having a number of days off, they think about how many days off they need for a holiday, or consider taking a day off for an appointment or similar.

Therefore time off work would normally be booked in units of a day, or sometimes half a day, regardless of whether days or hours are used for the booking process. So if you would like to keep things simple, both in terms of everyone involved understanding the process, and in terms of booking arrangements being simple and accurate, it does make sense to keep holiday expressed in days if possible.

Where this becomes problematic is if someone is not working the same number of hours each of their working days. If someone is, for example, working 7.5 hours a day on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and then only five hours on Fridays, that means the number of hours away from work they get, and therefore the number of hours’ pay they get, varies depending on which day they book off.

If they book proportionately the ‘right’ number of Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays off, or only take full weeks off, that would work out as the correct amount of leave in total. But if, for example, they take a lot of individual Fridays off, they might end up falling under their entitlement to holiday. This is particularly a concern if they only receive statutory minimum holiday.

Therefore in those circumstances it’s easier to make sure they get the correct entitlement if holiday is expressed and booked in hours rather than days. If they take a Tuesday or Thursday off, they deduct 7.5 hours from their entitlement, if they take a Friday off, they only need to deduct five hours.

Another reason for holiday being expressed and booked in hours is if you’d like to offer a bit more flexibility in terms of its use. If someone wants to book a couple of hours off for an appointment, say, or leave an hour early for an event, you could decide you’d like to allow that, and therefore having holiday available as a number of hours would facilitate that. That might result in lots of small holiday requests, but if the process is largely automated, through an HR system, the additional administrative burden shouldn’t be great.

If you’d like some guidance on whether to use hours or days and on administering holiday requests, do get in touch.