Can an employer tell an employee when their annual leave must be taken?

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Published on LexisPSL on 05/10/2016

The following Employment Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Can an employer tell an employee when their annual leave must be taken?
  • Is there a ‘relevant agreement’?
  • Holiday in the first holiday year
  • Taking statutory holiday under the WTR 1998
  • Employer designates holiday dates
  • Employer designates dates on which holiday cannot be taken
  • Employee requests holiday, but employer serves counter notice refusing holiday
  • Can the employer use the notice procedures to deprive an employee of their holiday entitlement?
  • Requiring holiday to be taken in a notice period
  • Carrying forward holiday
  • More...

See Practice Notes:

  1. Holiday

  2. Remedies for breach of working time rights.

See also Precedents:

  1. Notice—from employer requiring worker to take holiday

  2. Notice—from employer to worker refusing holiday

  3. Notice—of holiday dates from worker to employer

This answer sets out the position under the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR 1998). Contractual holiday entitlement may be more generous—see Practice Note: Holiday—Contractual holiday entitlement.

Is there a ‘relevant agreement’?

First look at the contract of employment if there is one (or other written agreement, such as a workforce agreement) to see if it sets out the terms about taking holiday.

For example see Precedents:

  1. Employment contract basic version (clauses 7.7 and 7.8)

  2. Service agreement (clauses 15.1 and 15.2)

If there is a relevant agreement, the notice rules set out in the WTR 1998, below, can be varied or excluded.

See Practice Note: Holiday—When statutory holiday may be taken and the notice requirements—variation of notice provisions by relevant agreement.

Holiday in the first holiday year

Because holiday accrues in the first year of employment depending on how long the employee has been employed, in practice the employee can only take what they have accrued to date. This means that the employer has control over when and how much holiday the employee takes in the first year.

See Practice Note: Holiday—Statutory holiday accrual.

Taking statutory holiday

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