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Can My Employer Take my Holidays Away?

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 15 May 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Sick Sickness Holiday Employment

Q.

Can my employer take some of my holiday entitlement without my consent to cover a sickness period?

(Mrs Theresa Tonner, 7 October 2008)

A.

Like many employment questions, this seems simple but is far from easy to answer in a clear cut way because there are so many different regulations that can apply. It also depends on the legal relationship that you have with your employer and what Contractual Terms you have, if any. It also, to some extent, comes down to the best choice for you, regardless of whether or not your employer is trying to force you to do this.

Let's try to break it down step by step.

Different Employment Situations

First, you will need to decide how you are employed. Although the governments of the European Union are trying to make all employment law and regulations apply to all employees across the board, this process is not yet complete. Full-time And Part-time Employees are nearly on a level footing, but agency workers and contract workers are still lagging behind in terms of the employment rights and obligations.

We'll assume for the moment that you are full or part time, as an agency or contract worker is not likely to have any holiday entitlement with the person they work for in any case (that's as opposed to the agency involved).

If you have a contract it may state how many days off sick you can take with full pay and there is often then a second period where they will allow you to be on reduced pay. Eventually those periods will run out and you and the company will have to get together to decide how to treat your case, but until that happens, you cannot be forced to take holiday instead of sick pay.

Statutory Sick Pay

If there is no sick pay stipulation in your contract, there are government minimum guidelines which apply to employees. Employers must pay Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to employees, not for the first three days of sickness, but for the following 28 weeks. However, SSP is currently £89.35 per week, which may not be enough for many people to live on. The sickness has to be recorded for SSP to kick in, with a medical certificate from your doctor, which should be provided before the 8th day of the sickness period.

The bottom line is that an employer cannot force you to take Holiday Entitlement instead of sick leave, as long as you can prove that it is genuine sickness. But it might be a better choice for you, as taking holiday instead may mean that you will be better off financially, unless you have a contract with generous sick pay allowances.

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[Add a Comment]
I have a 30 hour contract and due to no fault of my own my manager have taken 8 hours of my annual leave because I was short one week. This now means I can’t have the holiday I wanted. Can they do this?
Fran - 15-May-18 @ 9:36 AM
@ so-fed-up - I imagine you are so fed up, I would be too. If he is playing the system, then you can report him to HR, or his manager or the whitle-blowing team (if there is one). If you report it, it will be investigated. So, you'd have to ask for confidentiality. But once it is out - you'd have to be prepared to stand by your accustation if it gets out - you never know.
RuthY - 14-May-18 @ 2:45 PM
My line manager organises the holiday schedules and since taking up his role, takes 40 days a year. His holiday entitlement is 30. This is a large company and it's a fairly rigid policy.. He pulls the team up if they're late, want to work from home, etc. One rule for him, one rule for us. What can I do? Should I report to HR, his manager, the whistleblowing team or say nothing? Is anything likely to happen if I do report it?
so-fed-up - 11-May-18 @ 1:54 PM
Can an employer reduce my holiday entitlement because I have had extended sick leave. They have removed 3 days of my holiday.
Melvyn - 7-May-18 @ 9:45 AM
My husbands holiday was authorised 8 weeks ago so we booked a holiday abroad. Now another manager has handed in his notice and now his boss says we can’t go away, what are my husbands rights? Please help
M - 4-May-18 @ 10:05 PM
I'd booked some time off work over Christmas(which was approved) but I had an accident at work at the start of December and I've still not returned to work! My employers cancelled my holiday without telling me is this right can they do this?
Justin dean shirley - 30-Apr-18 @ 9:34 AM
My employer has decided that we must take set holidays this year, 11 days in June and 11 in Feb with the remaining holidays to be used for emergencies.I work 24 hours per week over 5 days andI also have no contract written or verbal. Any advice?
Patsy - 17-Apr-18 @ 1:40 PM
miss A - Your Question:
I work full time (39 hours per week), for a company ive been with over 10 years. We work our holiday entitialment from jan to feb. we are currently having 28 days (5.6 weeks holiday entitlement). its now 4.5 months into the year and our boss has decided to take our remander bank holidays aways as he thinks we get too many. can he do this?

Our Response:
If the terms and conditions of your employment contract says you are allowed bank holidays as part of your annual leave entitlement, then your employer cannot change your contract unless you agree to the changes. Please see link here.
WorkingRights - 16-Apr-18 @ 2:36 PM
i work full time (39 hours per week), for a company ive been with over 10 years. We work our holiday entitialment from jan to feb. we are currently having 28 days (5.6 weeks holiday entitlement). its now 4.5 months into the year and our boss has decided to take our remander bank holidays aways as he thinks we get too many. can he do this?
miss A - 16-Apr-18 @ 8:26 AM
Nanny - Your Question:
I’m contracted for 45 h a week as a nanny although I work 55 or more instead with no break and no payed overtime , , when I was promised one hour in exchange to coming earlier. My boss is never there so taking a break is impossible as I look after three kids.on half terms I stay over and sometimes I work around 15 hours with no over time or time off in lieu or break. This past year I was made to organise and deal with moving houses apart for looking after the kids which made me not being able to take any holidays apart from a week on Christmas , so I’m owed three weeks and I just been told that because the tax year ended I have lost this holiday. Please what are my rights here Many thanks

Our Response:
Even if you are employed by a person, you can still raise a grievance, please see link here. Before you do, you may wish to give ACAS a call in order to fully explore your rights.
WorkingRights - 5-Apr-18 @ 1:41 PM
I was told I had holiday days to take by my employer... My employer therefore gave me 3 days off paid... After a week I have realised I haven't been paid for them days and when I went I to work about they said they've made a mistake and I wasn't actually allowed any more holidays... How do I go about it and what can I do as now I missed on full 3 days from work and I can't get the money in any way. What can I do?
Davidtt - 4-Apr-18 @ 7:49 PM
I’m contracted for 45 h a week as a nanny although I work 55or more instead with no break and no payed overtime ,, when I was promised one hourin exchange to coming earlier . My boss is never there so taking a break is impossible as I look after three kids.on halfterms I stay over and sometimes I work around 15 hours with no over time or time off in lieu or break .This past year I was made to organise and deal with moving houses apart for looking after the kids which made me not being able to take any holidays apart from a week on Christmas , so I’m owed three weeks and I just been told that because the tax year ended I have lost this holiday . Please what are my rights here Many thanks
Nanny - 1-Apr-18 @ 8:48 PM
Lucy - Your Question:
My boyfriend was sick for one day, and he came back they have taken away 2 booked days of annual leave. Can they do this?

Our Response:
As stated in the article, 'the bottom line is that an employer cannot force you to take holiday entitlement instead of sick leave, as long as you can prove that it is genuine sickness.' In the first instance, your boyfriend should attempt to solve the problem with his employer informally and if he is not satisfied, then he can make a formal grievance complaint in writing - please see link here .
WorkingRights - 22-Mar-18 @ 12:40 PM
My boyfriend was sick for one day, and he came back they have taken away 2 booked days of annual leave. Can they do this?
Lucy - 21-Mar-18 @ 10:18 AM
Hi, I work part time, Monday - Wednesday for 24 hours a week. My grandad recently passed away and my mums been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer so I have had a couple of days off in the past 3 months. I wasn’t given paid compassionate leave by my employer, he isn’t nice at all. I get called names etc, and now they have cut my holidays in half without telling my and giving my any notice. I believed I had 22 a year and now I am only given 9. Is this allowed?
Askingforafriend - 14-Mar-18 @ 3:49 PM
Pottydotty - Your Question:
I had over £800. In my holiday pot at the end of December.then it disappeared of my pay slip. And I have nothing.but my wage slips are saying that I have been paid £1'174.91 this holiday year but I cannot find where Because I have not had regular pay slips untill the last 6weeks. I have only had 2 weeks holiday last year and one week I swapped shifts with work mates and I did not get paid for this Do I stand any chance in getting this money back

Our Response:
You would have to take this up directly with you HR department or employer. If the money is owed, then you would be able to claim it back. Also, please see link here.
WorkingRights - 8-Mar-18 @ 11:03 AM
I had over £800. In my holiday pot at the end of December...then it disappeared of my pay slip.And I have nothing .....but my wage slips are saying that I have been paid £1'174.91 this holiday year but I cannot find where Because I have not had regular pay slips untill the last 6weeks . I have only had 2 weeks holiday last yearand one week I swapped shifts with work mates and I did not get paid for this Do I stand any chance in getting this money back
Pottydotty - 7-Mar-18 @ 1:22 PM
I was sick 2 days.My employer has deducted this from my holiday entitlement is this legal
Pj - 3-Mar-18 @ 3:11 PM
Hi there im on long term sickness (mental health issues) i was on SSP for 28 weeks and now have been given a SSP1 form. I have ALOT of hours left but when i said to my manager that id like my holiday pay paid she turned around and stated you can ask..so i did then she said im denying them until your fit and ready to come back to work. Baring in mind payroll hounoured 80 hours just before xmas for me.. is this manager within there rights? Because i feel discriminalised, please help!
Cals - 9-Feb-18 @ 7:18 PM
I am contracted to work 4 days a week. Either Tuesday -Friday or Wednesday-Saturday. I have 22.5 days a year holiday including bank holiday I’m told I have to use theholidays to cover the bank holidays that fall on a Monday, even though I wouldn’t be working???? This surely isn’t right
Nelly - 7-Feb-18 @ 10:36 PM
My employer has stated they gave me too many annual leave days last year and is now saying they are taking my annual leave days off the coming years annual leave entitlement. Is this allowed? And also if it isn’t will I have to pay back the money they paid for the annual leave they accidentally gave me. Thanks
Hol123 - 2-Feb-18 @ 6:52 PM
Helenwords- Your Question:
My husband's holiday entitlement runs from January to December. His work shuts down at Christmas but they are telling him that as they don't go back till the 4th January that he has to use this years leave for the 2nd and 3rd January. Can they make him do this?

Our Response:
Much depends upon what is contained in the terms and conditions of his employment. If his contract says his employer can do this, then his employer can.
WorkingRights - 2-Feb-18 @ 1:47 PM
i have four weeks holiday left that has to be used by the end of March I have asked for holidays and the manager hasn't authorised them because she has been of I have now requested holiday for three weeks in February and one in March she has still not authorised them can she make me loose these four weeks holiday as we can't carry them over
pat - 1-Feb-18 @ 6:24 PM
My husband's holiday entitlement runs from January to December. His work shuts down at Christmas but they are telling him that as they don't go back till the 4th January that he has to use this years leave for the 2nd and 3rd January. Can they make him do this?
Helenwords - 31-Jan-18 @ 7:34 PM
When i have doctors appointment my boss takes half day of my hoilday time is this allowed
Mor - 30-Jan-18 @ 1:09 AM
Raz - Your Question:
Last year l couldn't take all my holidays due to the fact another member of staff was off sick,, l spike to the manager and said l didn't want to lose my days as they had to be used by end of March, l was told not to worry l wouldn't lose them they would be carried over, today l checked my holidays to take time off as to my knowledge l had quite a few days left.l was told the company had taken the hrs back due to me not taking them last year.where does this leave me as l have serious trust issues with management

Our Response:
This is an issue that can only be resolved with your employer directly. In the first instance, you would have to attempt to resolve the issue informally by talking to your employer. However, if you’re not satisfied, you can make a formal grievance complaint in writing, please see link here.
WorkingRights - 19-Jan-18 @ 9:28 AM
Last year l couldn't take all my holidays due to the fact another member of staff was off sick,, l spike to the manager and said l didn't want to lose my days as they had to be used by end of March,l was told not to worry l wouldn't lose them they would be carried over,today l checked my holidays to take time off as to my knowledge l had quite a few days left..l was told the company had taken the hrs back due to me not taking them last year..where does this leave me as l have serious trust issues with management
Raz - 18-Jan-18 @ 2:47 PM
In the past we would take our holiday entitlement in Hours as this was recorded manually, now we have to book our holidays on line. THE PROBLEM... The system will only let you book a full day or half a day, but when booking half a day it's taking more hours off your entitlement EXAMPLE from 13.30pm to 16.30 should be only 3 hours but the system will take 3 and half hours off your holiday balance. And the employer as basically try not to take half days so you don't lose out. Our holidays entitlement in our contracts are written in Hours, can a employer taken more hours off your entitlement than what you are booking.
Sue - 16-Jan-18 @ 10:47 PM
If we've beentold to save our holidayfor a store refurb but the date of refurb gets changedand now not enough time to use all our holidays up so get told we will lose them are they allowed to do that.
Honor - 16-Jan-18 @ 1:47 PM
Miss M - Your Question:
HelloI started working at a new job in freight forwarding.I am working full time and are entitled to 28 days holiday minus the 8 day Bank Holiday. However, my director informed me that he wants to take another 5 days off my 20 days because they shut down over Christmas.Can you tell me if this is legal to do?thank you

Our Response:
You would have to look at the terms and conditions of your contract. You can calculate your holiday entitlement via the link here. You don't say whether this holiday is paid or unpaid, or whether you just have to take your holidays at that specific time, so the five days is allocated for this. You would really have to sort this out with your employer directly and/or give ACAS a call if you still are in doubt and once you've read the terms of your contract, to see if they are in line.
WorkingRights - 16-Jan-18 @ 9:22 AM
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