Blogs > Life in the UK

Annual Leave within the NHS

  • August 19, 2019

Annual leave should only be taken with agreement of your hospital’s rota-coordinator or HR department. There is no legal right to choose when you take your annual leave, as the hospital will need to balance your right to take leave against the needs of the service and to maintain appropriate staffing levels.

To find out exactly how you book your annual leave, review your contract and visit your HR department to receive a copy of the hospital’s annual leave policy.

Typically, to book your annual leave you are required to give around twice the period of leave to be taken. For example, if you wish to take two weeks off, you should give at least four weeks’ notice. You should get your request signed off by your clinical supervisor and take it to the rota-coordinator to sign off and authorise the leave. Please note, each Trust will have their own policy and process and so, it is important you check on how to correctly request annul leave or it may get refused.

How much annual leave am I entitled to?

Length of Service

Annual leave and Public Holiday entitlement

On appointment

27 days + 8 days

After 5 years’

29 days + 8 days

After 10 years’

33 days + 8 days

Will I get paid if I go on annual leave?

Pay during your annual leave will include regularly paid supplements. Your pay will be calculated on the basis of what you would have received if you had been at work. If your normal rate of pay includes regular enhancements, these could be seen to be part of your normal rate of pay. Your employer will have a policy covering pay during annual leave.

My employer agreed to my annual leave and have now cancelled it, what should I do?

If you have followed your hospital’s policy on annual leave and you had your clinical supervisor and rota-coordinator’s consent, it may not be reasonable for them to cancel your leave. If your employer cancelled your leave absent of an emergency situation, then you may be able to claim for breach of contract including the recovery of the holiday expenses you have already incurred, for example, the cost of your flight.

If this does happen to you:

  • Check your contract
  • Check that you have followed your local policy
  • If it was formally agreed, discuss the matter with your clinical manager
  • If the matter is not resolved, please contact the BMA.

If I do not use up all my annual leave in one year and stay at the same hospital, can I carry my annual leave over?

If you do not take all of your statutory holiday entitlement during your leave year, your hospital may allow you to carry over the remaining days to the next holiday year. You must take at least four weeks’ holiday a year, so only holiday on top of this can be carried over.

The policy of doing so will be dictated by the hospital.

I am relocating to the UK on a Tier 2 visa, yet to start with my NHS hospital but I need to book some annual leave. What should I do?

If you are aware of a particular date that you need annual leave, for example, if you have a course that you need to attend – inform the HR department as soon as possible. This will allow them to make adjustments to the service and your rota in enough time.

What is the maximum amount of annual leave I can take on a Tier 2 visa?

As long as you have a valid Tier 2 visa and you are still employed, you can leave the UK to visit your home country for as long as your NHS Trust has granted. As you will have 27 days annual leave, most doctors take up to two weeks annual leave at a time to make the most of their time abroad, however, they are not absent from their department for too long.

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LTD, C. (2019). What is an ownership fee? - Cyclescheme Knowledge Base. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Aug. 2019]. (2019). NHSGGC : Cycle to Work Scheme. [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Aug. 2019].


The Royal College of Nursing. (2019). Annual leave and holiday | Advice guides | Royal College of Nursing. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Aug. 2019]. (2019). $name. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Aug. 2019].


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