in Careers Advice, Employers, Legal Profession

The Death of 20 Days Annual Leave

The Death of 20 days Annual Leave
There are still a number of law firms out there who offer 20 days annual leave. Occasionally this crops up and it is probably useful to know that by offering 20 days annual leave you are risking losing staff to the competition and not being able to recruit in the first place.

20 days annual leave has been the standard in the legal profession on the high street for many years. However rapidly increasing numbers of firms now offer 25 days annual leave (plus statutory) and it has become a pre-requisite for many applicants when looking for a new role.

After all salaries have not really moved upwards for a long time and annual leave increases are an alternative option. A 25% increase in annual leave from 20 to 25 days can actually cost you very little indeed.

Lets look at the figures. Say for example you employ someone at £35k per annum. Assuming they work 47 weeks of the year (20 days annual leave plus an additional 5 days statutory), you will be paying them £745 a week before tax. If you increase your annual leave allowance to 25 days, the cost will be £745.

£745 represents a 2.13% pay rise, but a 25% increase in annual leave. If you had to employ a locum to cover the extra week, the cost would be around £1,400, assuming a £35 an hour rate.

A lot of candidates value annual leave increases more than they do salary increases, mainly because so much of the salary increase disappears in tax. Annual leave increases are much easier to see and extremely cost effective for smaller law firms.

Happy and content staff make productive and profitable businesses, something a lot of firms forget…

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Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. This article follows up a recent job offer made and a realisation that very few candidates remain who receive 20 days annual leave..

Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 20 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at You can contact Jonathan at