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Can an Employer Change Our Holiday Arrangements?

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 15 Feb 2021 | comments*Discuss
Contract Holiday Entitlement Employees


I work in a factory and we are generally given 23 days off per year paid holiday.They are usually 1 week for Whitson, 2 weeks in the summer (15 days total when factory shut is down) and 8 floating days to be taken at our convenience.

We work split shifts (6-2/2-10/10-6) on a rolling basis and 3 teams (A shift, B shift and C shift) each cover, so the factory is open 24 hours.

We have now been told our holidays are changing next year. We HAVE to take 1 week in March, 1 week for Whitson (closure), and 1 week in October (week 1 in the month will be A shift, week 2 is B shift, and week 3 will be C shift).

Also, we have been told out of our 8 floating days, 5 will be needed to use over Xmas as there is not enough work to cover. So we finish 2 days earlier and return 3 days later than scheduled.

This means we have 3 days to be taken as paid holidays throughout the full summer. Are they allowed to do this?

(S.E, 17 October 2008)


The answer to this is basically yes, but you should have a say in the change.

The most important thing to say at this point is that it is utterly essential that you take advice from a properly qualified source who will be able to examine your exact circumstances properly. And in particular that they are able to look at your contract of employment, assuming you have one.

There are different levels of entitlement and rights for different types of workers. Although work is going on through the EU to abolish those differences, agency and contract workers still have fewer rights in the workplace. However, it sounds like you are a permanent employee under contract, in which case you have the strongest level of Working Rights.

Change of Contract

If that is the case, then essentially employers can control when you take your holiday entitlement. But if your contract clearly stipulates the arrangements you have outlined in your question and they are changing it dramatically, then it amounts to a change in Your Employment Contract.

As such this should be discussed and agreed with you, either individually or as a group, through staff or union representatives. It is possible that your employers might be persuaded to put some sort of compensation into the deal to sweeten it but they are not legally obliged to do so.

Your Options

You can choose to leave, of course. Your employers must feel that they are in a strong position in terms of finding replacement employees, because such a dramatic change might lead to a lot of employees leaving.

If you are seriously against the changes and negotiating doesn’t bring any compensation or flexibility to allow you to continue in the job, then you can refuse to accept the change, but you must get legal advice before taking this step. The next step is likely to be to resign and then bring a claim against your employers for Constructive Dismissal, but you must be sure of your ground before you go down this road.

Seek Legal Advice

To get expert help with this, go to the Citizens Advice Bureau, which won’t cost you anything in the first place. They should be able to point you in the direction of a lawyer who specialises in employment law. Or, if you are lucky enough to be a Trade Union Member, go straight to their representative for guidance.

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Jj1993 - 6-May-20 @ 10:17 AM
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Nat - 3-Jan-20 @ 7:19 PM
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Taz - 5-Apr-18 @ 11:08 AM
Glog - Your Question:
We have just been told our new holidays are now going to start from Jan to Dec where as before they were april to march meaning outr holidays for this year have now been cut from 28 days to 21 can they do this

Our Response:
As outlined in the article, as such this should be discussed and agreed with you, either individually or as a group, through staff or union representatives. You can see more via the ACAS link here . However, most workers who work a 5-day week must receive at least 28 days’ paid annual leave per year. This is the equivalent of 5.6 weeks of holiday, please see link here. If you are still unsure, you may wish to speak to ACAS directly.
WorkingRights - 8-Mar-18 @ 10:02 AM
We have just been told our new holidays are now going to start from Jan to Dec where as before they were april to march meaning outr holidays for this year have now been cut from 28 days to 21 can they do this
Glog - 7-Mar-18 @ 4:33 PM
Hi I have worked at my job for nearly 11 years . When I started we had factory shut down may August and October our boss asked us to beflexible as out work gets busy in the high season .There was a holiday block for our wearhouse but not our department.Our boss has now imposed a 6 week holiday ban in august for 6 weeks to middle of September.We were only notifyed of this change on the 29th January, our holidays start Jan 1st to Dec 31 .I put my holidays in on the 2nd of January and didn't get a reply after 27 days I booked a holiday abroad, my boss hasn't allowed my time off as it's in the holiday block do I have any rights.Thank you.
denise - 30-Jan-18 @ 8:24 PM
our company have just told us we cant book holidays on certain dates is this allowed ?
rover741 - 14-Dec-17 @ 9:03 AM
I work 5 days a week 9:30 til 1:30 and every other weekend my employer has now changed my holiday leave from 28 days to 15 days I also have to use it for bank holidays leaving me with 7 days a year annual holiday is this correct
Kandi - 24-Nov-17 @ 8:05 PM
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help1 - 5-Nov-17 @ 4:36 PM
Mark1989 - Your Question:
Hello, not sure if this is in the right topic but I booked holiday nearly 2 months ago. I have a confirmation slip stating it was allowed and signed by the senior personnel manager but when I asked about it they said the holiday does not exist should I just take the holiday?

Our Response:
It would not be wise to take the holiday without authorisation. You would need to take the slip to your line manager and discuss this directly. However, if the slip has been signed and you have booked a holiday, then you can stand up for your right for this authorisation to be honoured. But direct negotiation and communication is key here.
WorkingRights - 5-Oct-17 @ 12:14 PM
Hello, not sure if this is in the right topic but I booked holiday nearly 2 months ago.I have a confirmation slip stating it was allowed and signed by the senior personnel manager but when I asked about it they said the holiday does not exist should I just take the holiday?
Mark1989 - 4-Oct-17 @ 7:21 AM
hi , the company i work for has changed are hoilday year from Jan to end of Dec they have changed it to April to March , they are saying that its only 6 days _1 for the bank holiday in Jan ,and we only have 5 days hoilday to use by the end of March .some of us have said .t should be 7 days -1 day holiday = 6 days holidays to use by the end of March they are saying that the can round it down and we saying they can not round it down from 6.9 dayswho is right ?
D - 8-Feb-17 @ 8:04 AM
If an employer changes the holiday dates from April to April, to January to January, can they then take 8-10 days off the next years holiday if you have already taken it?
Dave - 22-Sep-16 @ 8:00 PM
Cartaret - Your Question:
Okay I work part time 9 hours /week for 3 hours /day as a Sensory Panelist for a well known drinks company. Its a specialist role. I have a contract signed n October 2015 which provided me with 60 hours holiday PLUS statutory Bank Holidays. However as my role is Tues/Wed/Thurs our role only falls on Bank Holidays at Christmas and New Year.The Company has asked that we close down for 2 weeks over Xmas- so 18 of our holiday hour allocation is used up ,now they have asked us to take another week in June so that's another 9 hours. so that leaves us with 33 hours which is about 11 days. We were not told and our contract does not state that we cannot take holidays longer than 2 weeks- some of us wanted to take long haul holidays. which the Company are saying is against their rules.- We have now been told by HR that next years holiday allocation has been reduced to 53 hours plus Bank Holidays. I think that they are playing fast and loose with us and trying to pull a fast one - I am tempted to just walk away but I like my roll

Our Response:
It really depends on your contract and what you agree to. If your contract includes a variation term, this allows your employer to change a particular term or condition in your contract, please see CAB link here which should answer your question and ACAS article here. I hope this helps.
WorkingRights - 10-May-16 @ 10:13 AM
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