Home Care: Do I Pay for Home Carers Holidays?

Written by Zenya Smith30/05/19


Home Care

You might be wondering what happens when your private home carer takes holidays, and whether or not you need to provide holiday pay. This article aims to explain holiday entitlement in the UK, what this means when you hire a private carer directly, and how companies like Elder can help in this process. 

If you’re directly employing someone, you have legal obligations to anyone you employ when it comes to holidays and holiday pay. This includes home carers, including those who work just a day or two a week.

That is, of course, unless you use an agency or company such as Elder, where the carers are self-employed and therefore responsible for their own holiday. If this is the path you’re going down, it’s still really important to have a think about the costs you have to cover for your home carer. This may include things like adapting a room for the carer to sleep in, budgeting for their food and travel expenses, and adjusting your car insurance if they hold a driving license and you’d like them to drive your car as part of the placement. 

Holiday entitlement in the UK

All employees who work full-time hours (5 days a week) are entitled to 28 days of paid holiday each year. This works out at 5.6 weeks per year. There are eight bank holidays in the UK (New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, two May bank holidays, the August bank holiday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day). The entitlement of 28 days may or may not include the bank holidays.

This means that if an eligible employee is required to work on some or all of the bank holidays, they must still receive 28 paid days of holiday each year. If the employee is not expected to work on bank holidays, they’re entitled to paid bank holidays, together with an additional 20 days of holiday.

If you employ your own carer (i.e you’ve created an employment contract for them, and have registered as an employer with HMRC) you will need to include 28 days of paid holiday within that contract. You don’t necessarily need to give the carer bank holidays off, but if they’re not required at certain times of year due to family members being around, for example, it might make sense to use some of the bank holidays as part of the carer’s holiday entitlement.

How to calculate carer holiday pay if my private carer is part time

Part-time workers are also entitled to paid holidays, the number of which can be calculated on a pro rata basis. For example, a carer who works 2.5 days per week (20 hours per week) will be entitled to 14 days of paid holiday a year. To calculate the holiday entitlement of part-time employees, multiply the number of days per week worked by 5.6 (the number of weeks of holiday to which a full-time employee is entitled). For example, someone who works three days per week will be entitled to 16.8 days of paid holiday (3 x 5.6 = 16.8).

The government has a helpful holiday calculator to help you work out entitlement for part time and irregular hours. 

In short, if you choose to employ your home carer directly, holiday should be a serious consideration when weighing up the cost of care.


But how do holidays work with a live-in carer?

Live-in care can make holiday entitlement a bit more confusing. This is because while the carer usually only works 8 to 10 hours per day, they move into their client’s property and stay with them 24/7, so it can be more complex to plan their holidays and breaks. 

If you employ a live-in carer you should still offer them at least 28 days of paid annual leave. However, it’s often logistically difficult for them to take a day off here and there throughout the year, as you’ll need to find a respite carer who can step in and cover for them. Respite carers are likely to have their own schedule and responsibilities, so finding someone who can fill in for random days is likely to be tricky. 

This is why live-in carers often work a few weeks on (often 3 to 5 weeks), and then take a full week off. 

If you use a live-in care agency who employs their own staff, they’ll likely have around 28 days statutory holiday entitlement. How carers use their paid holiday is up to them, but as already covered, they’ll usually be encouraged to take a few days or a week off at a time to support care continuity for the service user. Some placements won’t be full time, meaning staff will have additional breaks while waiting for their next placement to begin, however these won’t always be paid. This will depend on the type of employment contract they have with the agency too. For example, a carer who is employed on a 40 hour a week contract will most likely not have much of a break between placements, while a carer on a zero hour contract could be waiting a while and won’t be paid during this time.  


How much annual leave is my self-employed care worker entitled to?

A huge benefit of being self-employed is freedom. Self-employed carers, i.e carers who aren’t employed by anyone and manage their work and tax themselves can technically take as much or as little annual leave as they choose. For live-in carers, who do an incredibly demanding and selfless job, this flexibility can be invaluable. 

because their self-employed, their’s no statutory entitlement, meaning you won’t need to pay them while they’re away. However, unless you’re available to step in an be a unpaid carer in their absence, you’ll likely need to pay a respite carer to come and provide temporary care until they return, especially if personal care or round-the-clock supervision is required. 


Your obligations as an employer

To recap, if you employ a home carer directly, whether for yourself or someone else, you’ll be responsible for providing them with the legal minimum number of paid holidays per year. For a full-time carer, this means you will have to pay a minimum of 28 days holiday.

The holidays can include the eight UK bank holidays, or, if you require the carer to work on some or all of these days, they can be given at other times of year.

In many cases, you will be able to request that the carer takes their holidays at times that are most convenient for you and your family. It’s advisable to agree holidays as far in advance as possible to enable you to make alternative care arrangements.

Depending on the level of care required and the nature of any specialist care needed, this might be undertaken by a temporary carer or by a family member or friend.

A great way to avoid this situation is by engaging the services of a self-employed carer, through a company like Elder. 

How Elder can help

Using a company like Elder is a great in-between – you’ll get the flexibility associated with hiring a carer privately, but with a range of additional administrative and logistical tasks taken care of for you. 

Elder works exclusively with self-employed carers and personal assistants. We’ll take time to learn about your needs and lifestyle, and help you find the most suitable carer from our community of over 5000 self-employed professionals. 

Every carer on our platform is background checked, has their character and judgement assessed, and must provide verifiable professional references before they can use Elder’s platform. 

Once you’ve chosen your carer, we’ll take care of payroll and help with logistics. You’re free to agree a working pattern with your self-employed carer that works for both of you. We find most families and carers choose to schedule in a week off every 5 to 6 weeks.

Elder will help you plan for this week of by connecting you to suitable respite carers to provide live-in care and support during your main carer’s holiday. This carer matching service is free of charge, and we’ll help you ensure your respite carer arrives on their first day with plenty of time for your main carer to handover all responsibilities. 

Holiday entitlement advice services 

Citizens Advice – advice on a huge range of work and social care topics 

UK Government – information on national minimum wage, holiday entitlement, and how to become an employer 

Simply Business – information on how to draw up a contract of employment if you decide to hire a carer privately and independently 


Learn more about home care

Take a look at more Elder guides on how to  arrange and adjust to care at home.

Our phone lines are closed right now

Opening hours:

Monday 9am – 7pm
Tuesday 9am – 7pm
Wednesday 9am – 7pm
Thursday 9am – 7pm
Friday 9am – 7pm
Saturday 9am – 5pm
Sunday 9am – 5pm