The holiday season is upon us and workers have dreams of lying
on beaches and splashing in the sea. As an employer you might have
other ideas. You might need your staff in the workplace. This has
been the case for those in the financial sector. Some banks have
put measures in place to ensure there are enough staff to deal with
enquiries and issues arising from the Brexit vote.
Can employers restrict the taking of holidays?
Under the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR), either the
employer or worker can give notice of taking statutory holiday. A
written agreement can vary or exclude these provisions.
Under the WTR, the notice a worker needs to give must be at
least twice the period of leave that they are requesting. This
means if the worker wants to take five days' leave, they must
give at least 10 calendar days' notice.
An employer may refuse a worker's holiday request by serving
a counter-notice. The employer must give the notice at least as
many calendar days before the date on which the leave is due to
start as the number of days which the employer is refusing. This
means if the worker has requested six days' leave and the
employer wishes to refuse five days of the request, it must give
notice at least five calendar days before the date on which the
leave was due to start.
Employers need to ensure that they are not restricting a worker
from taking their entitlement due under the Working Time Directive
(WTD). This amounts to four weeks' minimum entitlement (the WTR
provide for 5.6 weeks' leave in total). Except in some limited
circumstances (such as where long-term sick leave or family-related
leave is taken), workers may only take WTD leave in the leave year
to which it relates, or else it is lost. A worker may, subject to
their terms and conditions, be able to carry over any additional
WTR leave or other leave accrued under their contract, to the next
While major UK banks and foreign banks have not put in place
outright bans on taking annual leave, they have admitted to putting
in place "appropriate measures" to ensure they have
sufficient numbers of staff working. Having staffing resources in
place will be a consideration for other sectors too.
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