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Can an employer make an employee take holidays?

Can an employer make an employee take holidays?

Yes, an employer can require an employee to take holidays at a particular time.  Companies often have clauses in their employees’ contracts requiring them to set aside some of their leave to use over a Christmas shutdown (for example).  But there is also a general power under the Working Time Regulations 1998 for an employer to nominate specified days on which a worker must take annual leave. 

Does the employer have to give notice?

The employer must give notice, twice as long as the period of leave (so, two weeks’ notice if the employee is to go on one week’s leave).

Are there any restrictions?

This power can be used as long as there isn’t a collective agreement or contractual terms already in existence that override the statutory position.  And you can’t have someone on holidays when they are already on leave under another statutory provision, such as maternity leave.

Is there anything else an employer should bear in mind?

Although the position isn’t as clear-cut where an employee is currently on furlough, and it may impact on goodwill, there may still be circumstances where this is a reasonable means of ensuring that employees take all the paid leave they’re entitled to.

What should I do next as an employer?

If you need further advice or a have a specific situation you’d like to discuss, please get in touch.


First Published 11 January 2021
Last Updated 11 January 2021

11 January 2021 
First published.

Find out more about Kirsty Henderson

Kirsty Henderson

Kirsty Henderson

Kirsty is a HR Advisor in our HR team