In general, employees should be able to decide when to take their annual holidays.

Annual holidays can be taken at any time agreed between the employer and the employee. Employees must be given the opportunity to take at least two of the four weeks’ annual holidays continuously.

Stopping employees from taking annual holidays
People have important and legitimate personal, family and community responsibilities. If an employee wants to take entitled annual holidays, employers can’t unreasonably refuse.
An employer can say no if an employee wants to take annual holidays in advance.

Making employees take annual holidays
Employers can make employees take entitled annual holidays if:

  • they can’t reach agreement with their employee about when annual holidays will be taken, and they give the employee at least 14 days’ notice, or
  • they regularly close down for a certain period every year and give the employee at least 14 days’ notice.

If an employer closes the workplace unexpectedly (e.g. if there was a sudden closure of the workplace following a natural disaster) and an employee refuses to take annual holidays with less than 14 days’ notice and is prepared to come into work, they can’t be made to take annual holidays.

Cancelling arranged annual holidays
In some situations, employees or employers may wish to cancel annual holidays that they have already arranged. This could be because of a situation out of either party’s control or for a personal reason.
If an employer or employee wishes to cancel arranged annual holidays, then they should negotiate this in good faith with the other party. Both parties could agree to defer the holidays, or to reduce the amount of holiday taken. Any changes to arrangements should be in writing. Employers or employees do not have to accept the other party’s request to cancel arranged annual holidays.

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Penny Varley

Payroll Administrator