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Holidays for shift workers compared to full time standard hours workers - are we doing the right thing?

Holidays for shift workers compared to full tim...

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 I’m looking for some advice please and wondered if anybody can help me:

We have a team of 24/7/365 shift workers working 4 days on, 4 days off, 12 hours each shift. Using the calculation on the Direct.Gov website (5.6 weeks entitlement x 3.5 shifts worked per week = 19.6 12 hour shifts annual entitlement) the team is entitled to 19.6 shifts off a year as a minimum.

Contractually, we offer full time, standard hours workers 22 days holiday per annum, plus bank holidays, rising with length of service to 28 days holiday per annum plus bank holidays.

We have realised that when we set the shift team up, rather than reducing the number of holidays they were entitled to, rather than reducing the amount of shifts (or days as we are still calling the holidays) to account for the fact that they worked less shifts a week, we actually increased their holiday entitlement to compensate them for working more hours a week than the standard full time workers (approximately 42 hours a week worked compared to 37.5 hours for all other staff).

This situation needs to change because at the moment we are trying to find cover for far too many holidays (e.g. due to length of service and the agreement we incorrectly put in place, most of the team had the equivalent of 8.5 weeks holiday last year).

I know how to manage any proposed changes fairly and with enough notice etc. but I am unsure as to what would be an equitable amount to take their holiday entitlement to. 

I suggested that as the shift workers do 3.5 shifts a week and full time workers do 5 days (or shifts) a week, we should give the shift workers 70% of the full time worker’s holiday entitlement (3.5/5 *100). I thought this would be equitable because financially they are not losing out and it just brings the breaks in line. However the argument that came back is that it is not fair because the shift workers work more hours per week and therefore should be given more breaks.

If you have any thoughts or could possibly share how you manage 24/7/365 holiday entitlements compared to your non-shift working full time employees I would really appreciate it.

Thanks a lot,


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By ejohnstacey
11th Nov 2011 18:14


The purpose is to give the employees time off from work based on their working week. For shift workers it is best to go to hours, as you have done, otherwise you get them taking working weeks off, which I presume is where you get 8.5 weeks from.

So whatever you do try and establish hours as a measure, even if you then get to a percentage of 5 day staff.

Below is what we did to explain to a client's 12 hour shift workers - it may help.  They could not afford to go beyond the statutory entitlement and in fact had gone to the 28 day figure when the Government extended holiday originally. They were not expecting the next increase to hold the maximum at 28 days which caused a problem as 5 day workers got more holiday.


The current statutory holiday entitlement is 5.6 weeks (which equates to 5 weeks and 3 days or 28 days for a 5 day worker) inclusive of customary holidays.


For shift workers the current legal entitlement is 5.6 usual working weeks expressed in hours inclusive of customary holidays.


 Staff work 84hrs per two weeks which equals seven 12hr shifts over the rolling 2 week period but an average of 42 hrs per week.  Therefore holiday entitlement is 5.6 weeks x 42 hours which is 235.2 hrs or 19.6 x 12 hr shifts.  We round this up to 20 x 12 hour shifts, which is 240 hours per year. The logic is that a shift worker is currently entitled to 5.6 working weeks on holiday.  As we close on Christmas Day, this is a holiday we all have to take out of the entitlement so the 240 hrs are then reduced by 12 hours = 228 hrs per year.  (19 shifts).

Under Para 12 of the contract, the Christmas Day holiday is shown correctly as 1 day (12 hours) which demonstrates that a days holiday would be paid at 12 hours in lieu of a 12 hour working shift.  


(The Statutory Holidays in law are expressed in days for 5 day workers and the old contract expressed entitlement in the same way so that staff could see that the Statutory Holidays had been provided.)


I am not sure if I have helped but come back if there is more you need.


Good luck



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Replying to ejohnstacey:
07th Jan 2018 20:53

Hi. I know this post is old but maybe someone can advise how the holiday entitlement works with 8 hour shifts 24/7/365. I agree with 240 hours for 12 hour shifts.

Thank you

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By sarahhowardillston
14th Nov 2011 10:51

Hi John,

Thanks for taking the time to reply, I really appreciate it and that really helps.


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