Call us Menu

0800 030 9066

A Guide to Variable Hours


Variable Hours (VH) holiday is a system that allows users who work irregular or variable hours to use the mainstream holiday system. Users automatically accrue holiday based on a percentage of the hours that they work, as entered by managers.

  • A holiday year can comprise periods of fixed or VH. Leave accrued and days taken will be ‘rolled up’ in each period.
  • Only controllers can set employees to VH.

Moving in and out of Variable Hours holidays requires a number of changes to a user’s record including possible changes to holiday units as all VH entitlements are managed in hours. Changes in holiday unit will also be applied to all previous and future holiday bookings. The system will guide you through this via a series of ‘wizards.’


  • Variable hours (VH) – Where an employee does not have a fixed work pattern and has no fixed hours per week. Their hours can vary widely from week to week.
  • Fixed Hours – where an employee has a fixed number of hours per week or a regular work roster. Can be measured in either hours or days
  • Hours per day – the number of hours for which an employee is paid during a working day
  • Hours per week – the number of hours worked per week by a Full Time Holiday Entitlement (FTE) employee
  • Percentage accrual – the rate at which an employee accrues leave within VH
  • Full Time Holiday Entitlement (FTE) Equivalent – The holiday entitlement that a VH employee would receive if they did the same job on a full time basis

How to set a user to VH – Controllers only

Go to setup & admin > hours status.

calendar alerts

Find the employee you would like to setup for variable hours. Input the date change will take effect from and click on the Submit button.

calendar alerts

Click on the ‘Variable hours’ radio button to configure variable hour settings for the chosen employee.

Variable hour employees cannot accumulate more holidays than full-time equivalent colleagues. Holiday accruals for VH employees are therefore capped either by week or by annual accrual. Values entered in the Standard FTE working week (hours) and the Fulltime holiday entitlement equivalent (hours) are used to enforce this rule.

calendar alerts

Calculating variable hour holiday accrual percentage

  1. Convert full time entitlement from days to weeks. For example, an employee entitled to a statutory minimum of 28days would convert to 5.6 weeks holiday entitlement.
  2. Calculate the number of weeks the employee is likely to work in a year (52weeks in a year minus 5.6 weeks holiday entitlement equals 46.4 weeks)
  3. Divide holiday entitlement by weeks in work and multiply the result by 100 to get the percentage (5.6/46.4 = 0.1207). Then 0.1207*100 = 12.07%.

Limits on accrual

  • Full Time Equivalent (FTE) holiday entitlement. A user set to VH, cannot accrue more holidays than would have been available to a full time counterpart.
  • Working week option. When set, all VH users only accrue leave on hours up to their FTE working week hours. To set this go to setup and admin > variable hours settings. Remember users may have been set with different FTE working week values.

How to manage holiday for VH employees

VH users request holiday in the normal way via myhome > holidays > book holiday dates where they will see their YTD holiday accrual.

Holiday managers will approve VH holiday in the normal way via Management Dashboard > holidays > outstanding holiday requests.

Users can request leave in advance of their YTD accrual. This means that VH users may, at certain times have a negative holiday balance. Where users seek to do this, the system will present warning messages to both users and holiday managers.

In the case of requests in advance of current accrual, a message is displayed advising of this and if they are likely to accrue this difference before the end of the holiday year (based on an average of up to 12 weeks previous hours worked).

If they have not worked at least 6 weeks of VH prior to the request, they will just see a message advising that their request is in advance of their current accrual.

The user’s holiday request that holiday manager reviews, has extra information to allow for informed decisions. It includes a similar message advising if they are likely to accrue any difference before the end of the holiday year.

If a request means that the users would receive more holiday than their FTE counterpart, the VH system will not allow the request to be made.

These messages should be treated as guidance only as an individual’s work pattern could change at any time. It remains the holiday manager’s responsibility at all times to manage leave appropriately.

Variable Hours employees are subject to the same ‘use it or lose it’ rules regarding holiday at the end of the holiday year. The carry over systems also works in the same way for this group of employees.

How to change a user from VH to Fixed hours – Controllers and managers only

Controllers – setup and admin > hours status

Managers – management dashboard > hours status

Select the full time or part time (Fixed Hours) boxes. If part time, input the part time percentage.

You will then be guided through the change process via a wizard. This will require you to enter the hours per day that applies to the new period of Fixed Hours.

You will be asked if you wish to manage the new period of fixed hours in Days or Hours.

  • If you select days, the wizard will convert all previous holiday to Days including, entitlement, previously taken holiday, future bookings and any leave carried forward from the previous year.
  • If you select Hours all fields will remain in hours, as all periods of VH are also managed in Hours.


  • Users set to VH still use the same leave year as they did previously, for example January to December – this does not change.
  • If someone ends the year as a VH employee, they will continue to use VH in the next holiday year with an opening holiday balance of zero.
  • Entering retrospective periods of VH – if you wish to create a retrospective period of VH for a user, that is one which is in the past, you will first need to ensure that the user’s holiday is being managed in hours. The system will then allow you to create the period of VH required.
  • Great care should be taken when managing users during transitions as small errors can create larger differences later on.

Related articles

How to record hours worked for employees working variable hours

  • Free Data Migrationfree data migration
  • Unlimited Free Supportunlimited free support
  • 3 month MOT3 month MOT


© 2018 myhrtoolkit Limited, HR software on demand. All rights reserved. Various trademarks held by respective owners.

Edmund House, 233 Edmund Road, Sheffield, S2 4EL