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Holiday Entitlement FAQs

As a niche employment law firm, here at SCE Solicitors we speak to new enquiries daily.  The topics vary from unfair dismissal, discrimination and unpaid wages to name only a few.  Holiday entitlement, holiday rights, annual leave, however you choose to label it, is something we are often asked about so as the school holidays approach an end, here are some frequently asked questions, and answers, about this hot topic.

Q – What is the legal minimum holiday entitlement?

A – All workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday, this is the equivalent of 28 days for someone who works 5 or more days per week.  This 5.6 weeks’ entitlement can include bank holidays.  Part time staff are entitled to holidays on a pro-rata basis.

Q – Just employees get paid holiday, right?

A – No, the right to paid holidays is available to “workers”.  This includes casual workers or agency workers but does not include genuinely, self-employed contractors.

Q – Holidays disrupt my business; can’t I just pay staff off?

A – If your staff are only entitled to the statutory minimum holiday entitlement of 5.6 weeks’ then no, you will not be able to make a payment in lieu. If, however, you offer more than the statutory minimum, for example 25 days plus bank holidays, then you may be able to pay staff in lieu for the 5 days over and above the statutory entitlement.  You can also make a payment in lieu of accrued but untaken holiday pay on termination of employment.

Q – Can I set down when staff must take holidays?

A – Yes, but this should be clearly set down in your contract of employment.  Many companies close over the Christmas and New Year period each year so you can require staff to save holidays from their entitlement to cover the closure.

Q – Can I ban holidays at the company’s busiest time?

A – Yes, but again, this should be clearly set down in your contract of employment.  If December is your busiest period each year, you can state that no holidays may be taken during December each month, save for in exceptional circumstances.

Q – My employee always wants holidays at short notice, do I have to agree?

A – No, holidays are subject to approval by the employer and you can require a minimum number of weeks’ notice of any holidays.

Q – My employee has booked a holiday before asking for the time off and someone else is already off.  I want to reject the request but don’t think I can.

A – Employees should not be making any holiday commitments before having annual leave approved by an employer.  In this situation you are entitled to reject the request and the employee will have to cancel or rearrange their booking.

Q – My employee has used all of their holidays and there are still 5 months of our holiday year left.  I know they will ask for unpaid time off as an alternative, do I have to agree?

A – Employees are only entitled to unpaid time off work in an emergency to care for a dependant, so no, you do not have to agree.  Asking for unpaid time off as an alternative to annual leave should not be encouraged.  Companies can set a precedent by allowing staff unpaid time off so caution should be exercised before agreeing to any such requests.

The FAQs above are only a few of the many queries that can arise in relation to holiday entitlement.  If you would to discuss your or your employees’ entitlement, please contact me on 01133 50 40 30 or at hello@scesolicitors.co.uk.

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SCE Solicitors is a boutique employment law and dispute resolution practice based in Leeds which advises clients nationwide.  Please note that the information in this blog is to provide information of general interest in a summary manner and should not be construed as individual legal advice. Readers should consult with SCE Solicitors or other professional counsel before acting on the information contained here.

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