Annual Leave Policy Guide

6 Feb 2014 Alex Hastings    Last updated: 9 Jul 2014

A guide to help voluntary and community sector organisations develop an Annual Leave / Holiday policy for their own organisation.

1. The Law

The Working Time Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1998 (WTR) state the minimum annual leave provision for workers which is 5.6 weeks’ paid leave each year capped at 28 days.
  • The leave should be taken in the leave year in which it is due.
  • The leave may not be replaced by a payment in lieu except where the worker’s employment is terminated.
  • There is no statutory right for employees to be paid for public holidays.
  • For employees joining part way through the holiday year, they will be entitled to the relevant proportion of holidays for the remainder of that leave period.
  • Part time workers will receive the same leave entitlement as full time workers and this is calculated on a pro rata basis.
  • Leave calculations should be rounded up not down.
  • Employees may not request payment in place of taking time off.


2. Employer Options 

  • Employers may decide to provide more leave to employees than the statutory minimum 28 days required.  This would be known as contractual leave entitlement.
  • Employers may choose to close on bank and public holidays.  Paid public holidays may be included in the minimum entitlement of 28 days’ leave for each worker.
  • Employers may choose to provide bank and public holidays in addition to contractual leave.
  • Employers may choose to set a date to start the holiday year.
  • Employers may shut down for certain periods during which employees will use annual leave. 
  • Employers may require employees to take all their leave at specified times.
  • Employers may choose to approve or decline leave within reason and not for discriminatory reasons.
  • During the first year of employment the amount of leave taken at any time can be limited to the amount the employee has accrued.


3. General Guidance

Guidance, calculating part time leave entitlements and sample policies can be found at:

4. NICVA Holiday Policy

NICVA recognises the importance of holidays to employees in supporting work life balance and enjoying time away from work to relax.  Therefore NICVA provides employees with more leave than the statutory minimum required. 

Holiday Entitlement

NICVA provides a minimum of 25 days’ leave per annum for each full time employee (pro rata for part time employees).  NICVA’s holiday year runs from 1 February to 31 January and employees joining after 1 February will receive a pro rata entitlement to holiday leave.  Employees may not borrow leave from the next leave period.

On completion of 5 years’ continuous service with NICVA, the entitlement will increase by 1 day per year up to a maximum of 30 days. The extra day will be awarded on the anniversary of the employee’s start date.  This holiday entitlement accrues from the first day of employment with NICVA.

Customary days and office closures

In addition to the holiday entitlement, NICVA closes on 11 bank and public holidays as follows:

  • New Year’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, Easter Monday, Easter Tuesday, Early May bank holiday, Spring bank holiday, July holidays, Summer bank holiday, Christmas Day and Boxing day
  • Employees will receive pay for these days and for part time employees, the number of customary days will be calculated on a pro rata basis. 
  • NICVA closes the office between Christmas and New Year and therefore employees are required to use three annual leave days to cover this period annually.

Carry forward of holiday leave

NICVA encourages employees to use their holidays in the holiday year however NICVA will allow employees to carry forward no more than 8 days’ holiday leave into [AM1] the next leave year only by agreement with the employee’s line manager.  It is only in exceptional circumstances that more than 8 days may be carried forward and this will be subject to approval by the Deputy Chief Executive.  (See NICVA’s Attendance Management Policy for other exceptions to this related to sickness absence).

Leaving NICVA

NICVA recognises the benefits of taking time off work to enjoy holidays and encourages all employees to use their holiday entitlement in the holiday year or in the case of a fixed term worker, within the term of the contract[AM2] .  Where an employee has been unable to use holidays and is leaving NICVA, outstanding holidays will be paid in the final salary. 

Booking Holidays

Employees should ask their line manager for leave using the annual leave card provided to each employee annually on 1 February.  Line managers will not refuse leave requests unreasonably but equally it should not be assumed that leave will be approved.  In some circumstances, if it is not possible for leave to be granted at a certain time, the line manager will discuss the reasons for this with the employee.

Therefore NICVA encourages employees not to book any aspect of a holiday until the time off work has been approved. 

Employees should give reasonable notice to NICVA of the intention to book holidays and the period of notice should be at least double that of the length of the leave being requested.  NICVA understands that at certain times leave may be required at short notice and will consider such requests on a case by case basis.

Related Resources


We share NICVA’s policies to assist organisations in drafting their own. However, our policies are relevant to NICVA and are not samples. They should not be replicated, but may be used for reference purposes, in conjunction with other guidance available. NICVA cannot accept any claims arising from error or misinterpretation.'s picture
by Alex Hastings

Human Resources Manager

[email protected]

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