FAQs: Annual Leave
With another bank holiday approaching, we’ve written a blog detailing the answers to the most frequently asked questions about annual leave.
When can a new employee take annual leave?
During the first year of employment, the amount of leave that workers can take at any time is limited to the amount of leave that they have accrued.
Do all employers have to pay holiday pay?
Workers must receive their “normal remuneration” during their four-week leave entitlement under reg.13. As well as the amount that is payable under their contract during the additional 1.6 weeks leave under reg.13A.
The leave entitlement under reg.13 and reg.13A may not be replaced by a payment in lieu, except where the employment is terminated.
Do employees accrue annual leave during maternity leave?
Workers continue to accrue statutory leave under regs.13 and 13A of the Working Time Regulations 1998 (SI 1998/1833) during maternity leave. They must be able to take annual leave during a period other than the period of maternity leave.
Employees generally take their accrued holiday entitlement before the start of maternity leave and/or after it has finished.
Can employers force employees to take annual leave?
You should ensure that all employees plan and take their full entitlement to holiday.
Remember that the Working Time Regulations were introduced as a health and safety measure. This was simply to ensure that no one should be obliged to work excessive hours. Everyone should be granted adequate rest breaks and minimum amounts of holiday leave. An employee who neglects to take their full holiday entitlement will likely feel that their “balance” is skewed. This can in turn lead to a loss of motivation.
Employers may, if they wish, nominate specified days or dates on which an employee, or a group of employees, must (or must not) take some or all of their statutory annual leave. This can be done by giving the employees notice equivalent (as a minimum) to twice the number of days that the employer is nominating as statutory annual leave, and specifying the days or dates in question.
For example, if the employer wished to impose a 10-day shutdown over the Christmas period for the entire organisation. It would have to give at least 20 days’ notice. However, realistically a longer period of notice would be needed in this type of situation.
Can annual leave be cancelled?
Yes, an employer can cancel an employee’s period of annual leave if it gives the required notice. Under reg.15 of the Working Time Regulations 1998 (SI 1998/1833), an employer can require an employee not to take annual leave on particular days. However, the employer must give notice of at least the same length as the period of leave to be cancelled.
For example, if the employee has booked a period of four days’ annual leave. Then the employer must give at least four days’ notice of cancellation.
Employers can agree with their workforce alternative rules about the notice required to book and cancel leave. An employer should ensure that it complies with any such workforce agreement or contractual arrangement.
Employers must not cancel annual leave if it means that the employee is not able to take their full statutory annual leave entitlement.
An employer cannot cancel leave without a clear business reason. If cancelling leave results in the employee not being able to go on a booked holiday, the employer could face a claim for constructive dismissal. The employee may be able to argue that the cancellation is a breach of contract, entitling them to resign.
Employers should therefore cancel an employee’s booked period of annual leave only after considering all alternative options to ensure that the needs of the business are met. The employer could consider whether or not it would be appropriate to compensate the employee for any inconvenience.
Once an employee has booked a period of annual leave, the employer is not obliged to agree to a request by the employee to cancel it. Unless there is a relevant agreement in place that gives employees the right to cancel leave. However, the employer should take into account the needs of the business. As well as the employee’s personal circumstances and reasons for wanting to cancel the leave.
You may see a pattern developing here… contract, contract, contract! As an employer you have to follow the law but having particulars written in a contract that an employee can refer to is a must.
Need support with contract writing or have a particular question you need answering then contact us today.