Can an employer dictate when you take your holidays? There are specific rules on holiday entitlement in the UK, and they’re enshrined in law.
But you should be aware that your employer CAN refuse holiday requests, make you take holidays at certain times, and dictate how much holiday you can take at a certain time.
Holiday Entitlement – How Does It Work?
You’re entitled to a certain amount of paid holiday leave every year as per the terms agreed in your employment contract.
Paid annual leave is a legal right and employers must provide you with it, and if that agreement isn’t being met then you have a right to take legal action.
Almost all workers, including agency workers, those on zero hours contracts, and people who work irregular hours, are entitled to holiday leave. The legal entitlement in the UK is 5.6 weeks paid holiday every year, often referred to as annual leave or statutory leave entitlement.
For an employee who works a standard 5 day week, this equates to 28 days of paid annual leave per year. Bank holidays do not have to be included as part of annual leave, although many employers choose to include bank holidays as part of their 28 days’ annual leave per year.
This means many employment contracts may state that you are entitled to 20 days’ annual leave plus bank holidays.
For those that work part time, the amount of annual leave is calculated on a pro-rata basis, so if you work 3 days per week, then your entitlement would be divisible by 0.6, meaning that you’d be entitled to 16.8 days of paid annual leave per year.
What If I Need To Request Annual Leave?
Whether you can request holiday leave will depend on your relationship with your employer and the specific way in which you need to request annual leave.
But the general rule of thumb to work by is to ask for holiday at least twice the amount of time beforehand as you’ll be taking off. For example, if you’re taking 5 days off work (a week), then ask at least 10 working days before (two weeks).
However, it’s generally a good idea to request annual leave as far in advance as possible so that your employer can make arrangements for work to be covered if necessary, and to give you the best chance of it being approved.
Furthermore, your employment contract may have specific guidance on the length of time you’re required to request a holiday.
But your employer can refuse or cancel holiday as long as they let you know in good time. Again, the rule here is usually letting you know by at least the same amount of time as you’ve requested off (1 week before for a 1 week holiday, for example).
They can also make you take certain days off, which usually happens for businesses if they close during the Christmas period.
There are options, though, such as if you’ve asked for time off and your employer won’t allow you, it may be possible to request unpaid leave instead.
All holiday is taken in a year, whether that’s from April to March as per the financial year, or done on the calendar year, or some businesses may use your start date as the beginning of your holiday entitlement period.
Help And Advice On Holiday Leave
If you think your employer may have acted unlawfully in the way they’ve handled your annual leave entitlement, it’s worth seeking legal advice from an employment solicitor.
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