Can your employer dictate when you take holidays?
Under the Working Time Regulations 1998, you're entitled to take paid holidays. Unfortunately, many workers are denied holidays by their employers. Our employment lawyers are here to help if this has happened to you.
All you need to know about holiday entitlement
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Are you getting the holidays you're entitled to?
, with many not having any paid leave at all. In fact, their figures show that workers are losing out on nearly £3 billion worth of paid leave every year. This is extremely unfair, as most workers are entitled to a statutory annual minimum of 28 days paid leave - based on a five-day working week - which can include public holidays.
Some workers will even be entitled to more annual leave as set out in their contracts. Naturally, certain industries may dictate when you take that holiday – for example, in the hospitality industry you may be asked to avoid busy times, or if you're a teacher you will be expected to use the school holidays – but any such requirements should be mentioned in your employment contract.
What can I do if I'm being denied time off?
If you're repeatedly told that you can't take leave days during a period of time when you're entitled to take leave under your contract, you should raise this with your manager or HR representative to find out what the reasons are and whether they are justified.
If the issue isn't resolved satisfactorily, you can raise a formal grievance with your employer. You should find advice on how to do this in your staff handbook or contract. You may also decide to seek legal advice, either independently or as a member of a Trade Union.
It's worth noting, however, that if there's a genuine business reason why you can't take days off at a certain time then that's likely to be an adequate response from your employer.
Even so, you may want to remind your employer that they're legally required to allow you to take your statutory minimum holiday within the holiday year. It may also be a breach of your contract of employment if they don't allow you to take your full contractual entitlement.
Are temporary staff or workers in the gig economy entitled to annual leave?
Wherever you work, you're for statutory minimum holidays whether you're a full-time employee, part-time, agency or casual worker. The only situation where you're not entitled to holidays is if you're genuinely self-employed or an independent contractor.
Agency or casual workers might be told they'll get extra pay on top of their hourly rate instead of being given paid holiday leave. This is called rolled-up holiday pay, and the idea is that you store up the extra pay and use it when you want to take time off work.
Employers are no longer allowed to do this as it's a disincentive to take holiday because workers receive no pay when they actually take holiday. If this happens to you, you should take the steps mentioned in the section above.
What law are employers breaching if they deny annual leave?
The Working Time Regulations 1998 require workers to receive and be paid for annual leave. Workers who are denied statutory rest breaks or holidays, in breach of the Working Time Regulations, may bring a claim before the employment tribunal. If they're successful in their claim they can be awarded compensation.
Failure to pay you for annual leave may also give rise to a claim for unlawful deductions from wages, which can be pursued in an employment tribunal.
It's important to note that the time limits for bringing employment tribunal claims are short, and most claims need to be pursued within three months less one day from the relevant failure or deduction.
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