You are entitled to holiday
The Act relating to holidays (Annual Holidays Act) entitles all employees to annual holiday. It also enables you financially to be absent from your job during the holiday period.
Holiday pay compensates for the salary you lose while taking holiday. You have the right to take holiday, regardless of whether or not you have earned the right to holiday pay.
The employer and the employee have a mutual duty to arrange for holiday to be taken during the holiday year.
How many days of holiday are you entitled to?
According to the Annual Holidays Act, all days count as working days except Sundays and public holidays. Therefore, when the Annual Holidays Act entitles you to 25 working days of holiday, what this means in practice is 21 working days.
In addition, many employees are entitled to four extra days of holiday under collective pay agreements or individual agreements with their employer, and therefore have 30 working days of holiday. Which again in practice means that they have five weeks – that is, 25 working days – of holiday.
If you turn 60 during the course of the year, the Annual Holidays Act entitles you to an additional six working days of holiday.
The right to holiday pay
Your right to holiday pay depends on your having earned holiday pay in the year before the holiday year.
This means that if you were a student for the whole of the preceding year, and begin working on 1 February this year, you can take your full holiday entitlement but you will not receive holiday pay. In such cases, your employer cannot order you to take holiday.
Your employer decides when, but you are entitled to three consecutive weeks in the main holiday period
Even though everyone has a right to holiday, this does not mean that you can take holiday whenever you want.
You may ask to take holiday at a certain time, but it is your employer that makes the final decision if you cannot agree on when it can be taken. Even still, you do have certain rights.
From 1 June to 30 September (the main holiday period) you have a right to take three consecutive weeks of holiday, but your employer can decide exactly when in this period you can take it. Once it is decided when you will take your holiday, your employer would need to have compelling reasons to change it.
Splitting up your holiday - one day here and one day there
Most of us have employers who allows us to take single days as holiday. For example, many like to take off the Friday between Ascension Day (which falls on a Thursday) and the following weekend so that they can have a long weekend.
You ask your employer to take holiday days like this, but it is your employer that makes the final decision.
Calculating the length of holiday entitlement for employees who work part-time
While you are entitled to five weeks' holiday regardless of what percentage you work of a full-time position, this does not mean that you are entitled to 25 working days of holiday.
If you work 60 % of a full-time position, you are entitled to five weeks' holiday, but the number of days of holiday entitlement is based on the percentage you work of a full-time position. This means that a 60-per-cent position entitles you to 15 working days' holiday.
Calculating the length of holiday entitlement for employees who work shifts
Employees who work shifts are also entitled to 25 or 30 working days, and if you take one week of holiday, you will use six working days of your holiday entitlement. This means that if you take holiday for one week in which, according to your work schedule, you would have worked three days, this will count as six working days. Therefore, it is advisable to strike a balance between workload requirements for normal shifts and workload requirements for shifts during holiday seasons.
Some enterprises where shift work is performed convert holiday time into hours (for example, 35.5 hours per week x 5). A deduction is then made from this number of hours, depending on the length of the normal shift the employee would have worked. Calculating holiday in this way requires agreement between the employer and the employee representatives in the enterprise.
Changing planned holiday
After your holiday date is agreed, you may still request that the date be changed if needed, though in such cases your employer may deny your request.
Should your employer want to change the time when you take your holiday, it must be necessitated by an unforeseen event. The event must render it necessary for you to curtail your holiday in order to avoid significant operational problems for the enterprise. In such cases your employer may be liable to pay you compensation for any additional expenses you incur. Si it takes quite a lot for your employer to be able to change an agreed holiday date.
Sickness or parental leave during holiday
Should you fall sick during your holiday, your lost holiday entitlement will be reinstated.
You must submit a medical certificate for the period of sickness and reclaim your holiday entitlement on your first day back at work.
If you fail to use your full holiday entitlement during the year due to sickness, it will be transferred to the following year.
Your right to holiday applies regardless of where you spend your holiday. However, your right to sickness benefit when you are sick will depend on where you spend your holiday. Should you fall sick outside the EEA area, you will not be entitled to sickness benefit until you return to an EEA member state.
If you are on parental leave and are entitled to parental benefit from the National Insurance scheme, your parental leave will be suspended when you take holiday. If you do not take holiday during parental leave and are unable to take holiday by the end of the calendar year, your holiday entitlement will be transferred to the following year.
Transfer of holiday entitlement
Under the Annual Holidays Act, you and your employer may agree in writing to transfer up to 12 working days to the following holiday year. Some employers allow even more days to be transferred.
In fact, you may also agree to take some of next year's holiday entitlement in advance by agreeing in writing that you will take up to 12 working days from the following year's entitlement in advance.
The Annual Holidays Act states that employers must make sure that you use your full holiday entitlement. Days that somehow still are not used will be transferred to the following year.
When you leave your job and start a new one
Should you leave you job in the course of the year, you will still be entitled to holiday. You may ask to take holiday during your notice period. If you and your employer do not reach agreement, further resolution will depend on whether you resigned or were dismissed.
- If you resigned your position, in principle you are not entitled to take holiday during your notice period. However, you are still entitled to request three weeks’ holiday if your notice period falls during the main holiday period (1 June– 30 September).
- If you resign after 15 August, you will not be entitled to take three weeks’ holiday before 30 September unless it was already agreed.
- The employer may not use an employee's resignation as grounds for changing holiday plans that are already set.
- If you start working for a new employer after 15 August, in principle you are not entitled to three consecutive weeks of holiday during the main holiday period. The assumption is that you could have taken holiday while working for your former employer.
- If you are dismissed and have a three-month or longer notice period, your employer may determine that your holiday entitlement be taken during your notice period.
- If your notice period is shorter than three months, your employer cannot order you to take your holiday during your notice period without your consent.
Holiday pay is paid in June
Under the Annual Holidays Act, salary must be deducted and holiday pay paid when you take holiday. This proves very complicated for many employers, so it is generally accepted that holiday pay is paid in June.
The employer must deduct more than one month's salary for employees with five weeks' holiday entitlement. This can be calculated in two ways - see the example above.
Holiday pay if you leave your job
If you leave your job before taking your full holiday entitlement, your holiday pay must be paid out as long at it was not already deducted.
You are entitled to receive holiday pay for any holiday entitlement from the previous year which you did not take and which you still did not take before leaving your job. If you do not receive it, your employer owes you money for the days you worked but for which you were not paid salary.
We wish you all a good holiday!