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Can My Employer Take my Holidays Away?

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 16 Oct 2017 | 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 £85.85 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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Hi ,can anyone help me ,i have just returned to work afterfive months off ill ,i had accumulated five weeks of holiday over the past yearand i decided to reduce my hours to ten hours per weekon my return to work . Having taken my holiday owing to me i have only been paid ten hours per week for each of the three weeks holiday accumulated while working a sixteen hour week,i had informed them i should be paid the sixteen hours per week accumulated over the five monthswhile off sickam i right !!!
carol - 16-Oct-17 @ 1:12 PM
@Sandi - ha, that's a bit cheeky of your employer. So you've booked three days hol and your employer has said you have to work your usual days off? You should still get your Sunday and Monday off. You might have to work Tue and Wed as normal - but if your employer has asked you to work Sun and Mon, then you should get paid. Otherwise, it cancels out your annual leave allowance :(
HMc - 28-Sep-17 @ 1:46 PM
Saturday) which has been authorised. I normally work a 5 day week where by Sunday and Monday are my usual 2 days off. My employer has since told me I must work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the week I've booked 3 days hols on. Am I now working a 6 day week and not getting paid for it?
Sandi - 26-Sep-17 @ 4:18 PM
I've booked 3 days holidays in the same week (Thursday, Friday, Saturday) which has been authorised. I normally work a 5 day week where by Sunday and Monday are my usual 2 days off. My employer has since told me I must work Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the week I've booked 3 days hols on. Am I now working a 6 day week and not getting paid for it?
Sandi - 26-Sep-17 @ 4:16 PM
Blond viper- Your Question:
I have been off work for 6 months through ill health and due back soon but noticed they have talked all my holiday entitlement for this yr away meaning I have no holiday left to book till April 18 they pay company sick pay for 26 weeks which has now ran out so I only get ssp are they allowed to do this as I had sick notes to cover the period I was off sick. I have only taken 1 wk out of the 6.5wks I’m allowed each yr and have just noticed they have allocated the last remaining 3 days for the middle of nov when I haven’t requested it

Our Response:
You would really need to give ACAS a call regarding this, please see link here. Also, please read the terms of your employment contract before you give ACAS a call, so you are armed with the facts.
WorkingRights - 25-Sep-17 @ 11:24 AM
I have been off work for 6 months through ill health and due back soon but noticed they have talked all my holiday entitlement for this yr away meaning I have no holiday left to book till April 18 they pay company sick pay for 26 weeks which has now ran out so I only get ssp are they allowed to do this as I had sick notes to cover the period I was off sick. I have only taken 1 wk out of the 6.5wks I’m allowed each yr and have just noticed they have allocated the last remaining 3 days for the middle of nov when I haven’t requested it
Blond viper - 24-Sep-17 @ 2:47 PM
I have recently had an operation for which I was signed off for several weeks. My employer has paid me for the first 3 days using my holiday entitlement to cover me before the SSP kicks in. I didn't want to take these days as paid holiday as I now don't have enough holiday to cover my planned summer break. Can my employer legally take my leave from me against my wishes while I am signed off?
HonestGov - 30-Jul-17 @ 8:01 PM
I am on a 40 hour annualised contract. Shifts vary where I can work less as well as more than 40 hours. Rostered over 40 hours the + hours are 'banked' to cover our hours in winter. Currently on leave, which I submitted prior to roster coming out, where my employer has marked me in for 57 hours, +17 hours of a/L carried over to winter hours. Is this right or legal, as I cannot use these 17 hours as a/L later.
Rooster - 22-Jul-17 @ 6:23 PM
I've been off work with a spinal fracture for 3 months. There was some questioning at the beginning of my sick leave as to whether I was only entitled to SSP as opposed to OSP. My employer left me in limbo but paid me OSP. I did chase confirmation as there was a threat I may have to pay back if the decision fell against me. No clarification during my sick leave. Upon my return to work interview I was informed that they decided I should not have received OSP and would not going forward. We discussed occupational healths return to work recommendations (2days at 4hrs week 1, building up to 5 days 6hrs in week 6), which they argreed to accommodate but I would only be paid for what I work. Backed into a corner and knowing I had the best part of 4 weeks holiday accrued, I suggested that I take my holiday to fill in the gaps. They said they were not going to pay me twice as I shouldnt have received OSP in the first place and I have no more holiday entitlement. I did argue that they should have made that decision earlier and in that case they are now forcing me to return to full work (be it ammended 39hrs) against OH and medical recommendations. Can they do this? I know I'm not physically fit and my back gets tired easily but I need to pay the bills and feed myself.
Confused - 8-Jul-17 @ 12:51 PM
Hi I have been of work for 28 weeks with a fractured spine my employer as sent my last ssp payment but no holiday pay am I entitled to my holiday pay while been of sick
mitch61 - 10-Jun-17 @ 9:43 AM
Hi I booked4days annual leavethe 12-13-14 and 15th may 17I had a fallhurt my lower back neck shoulderon 7 th April 17I have been on sick leave since as I still having problems with my shoulder my deputy manager rang to ask if I wanted cancellmy annual leaveI said no then she say I have speak to managerwe spokethe manager said I don't get annual leave whilst on sick
Janie - 22-May-17 @ 1:01 PM
Libra 8 - Your Question:
I have been sick from work for 5 days with Norovirus , therefore unable to go to the Doctor. During that time I had one day holiday previously booked. On returning back to work I was told I had that holiday and that it wouldn't be given back to me. Apparently you have to get a Med3 from them to give to your Employer to prove you were ill. I was unaware of this and how could I do this as first 7 days of illness is self cert and a virus isn't treated by by the GP?

Our Response:
This information should be contained in the terms and conditions of your employment contract or employees' handbook. You should have let your employer know that you were ill, when you were ill, please see Worksmart link here for further information.
WorkingRights - 8-May-17 @ 10:34 AM
I have been sick from work for 5 days with Norovirus , therefore unable to go to the Doctor. During that time I had one day holiday previously booked. On returning back to work I was told I had that holiday and that it wouldn't be given back to me. Apparently you have to get a Med3 from them to give to your Employer to prove you were ill. I was unaware of this and how could I do this as first 7 days of illness is self cert and a virus isn't treated by by the GP?
Libra 8 - 7-May-17 @ 1:37 AM
RayFranco - Your Question:
Hi, During a normal day 9-6pm at work the nursery where my child attends called my work requesting that I collected my child due to a high temperature. I left work at 1pm. During that evening I had to spend the night in the hospital and got back home at 5am. Due to the lack of sleep I requested that I started work at 12 noon which was accepted. My employer has now deducted one days holiday allowance to cover this time without discussing my options with me first. What are my rights?

Our Response:
You would have to read your contract and see what it specifies regarding taking unauthorised time off work. Or speak to your employer in order to try to resolve the issue directly, if you have worked the afternoon hours and not been paid for them.
WorkingRights - 18-Apr-17 @ 12:58 PM
Hi, During a normal day 9-6pm at work the nursery where my child attends called my work requesting that I collected my child due to a high temperature. I left work at 1pm. During that evening I had to spend the night in the hospital and got back home at 5am. Due to the lack of sleep I requested that I started work at 12 noon which was accepted. My employer has now deducted one days holiday allowance to cover this time without discussing my options with me first. What are my rights?
RayFranco - 17-Apr-17 @ 9:07 PM
I was off sick on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday prior to Easter bank holiday weekend. My employer says as I've not returned to work before the bank holiday my holidays are cancelled and I'm classed as sick so theywill not pay me for them. Is this allowed?
Fair - 13-Apr-17 @ 8:04 AM
I was on long term sick over the 3 week scheduled summer leave, and I had a weeks holiday booked so I informed my employer that if the doctor cleared me to fly and it was ok with my insurance and I felt well enough then I may travel.They agreed and I was told to inform them if I didn't go.I went and on return put in another sick paper.So I believed I was on the sick the whole time.When I returned to work I found out they had changed 3 weeks of my sickness into Annual Leave, this included the week prior to the holiday and the week after.While I would not have objected to the week I was away being changed the week prior and after I was sick and not on holiday, and the week I spoiled by my ill health.Only went because it was payed for and my partner would have lost her holiday as well.My contract does not have and thing that covers this, however, they say it is a company policy which is unwritten,Where do I stand?
Sad - 31-Mar-17 @ 9:15 PM
Kirsty- Your Question:
I have recently took holidays and when I checked I had more holidays to take, I thought I had used them and my employer says I had to take them. Now they are saying they want the money back this month. What can I do if anything. My employer never changed me from part time to full time so they owed me these.

Our Response:
If you cannot resolve this matter with your employer directly, then you would have to raise a grievance, please see link here.
WorkingRights - 28-Mar-17 @ 10:27 AM
I have recently took holidays and when I checked I had more holidays to take, I thought I had used them and my employer says I had to take them. Now they are saying they want the money back this month. What can I do if anything. My employer never changed me from part time to full time so they owed me these.
Kirsty - 27-Mar-17 @ 10:12 AM
Chris - Your Question:
In need of some advice, I have been authorised holidays this week and next week but I have just had a phone call from my employer saying I will not be getting paid for next week, As my contract has been changed but the holiday was authorised before my the contract was changed are they allowed to do this as the holiday was authorised before any changes?

Our Response:
Your contract cannot be changed without your consent and authorisation. You may wish to give ACAS a call to explain the situation in more detail and in order to explore your rights.
WorkingRights - 23-Mar-17 @ 2:47 PM
In need of some advice, I have been authorised holidays this week and next week but I have just had a phone call from my employer saying I will not be getting paid for next week, As my contract has been changed but the holiday was authorised before my the contract was changed are they allowed to do this as the holiday was authorised before any changes?
Chris - 23-Mar-17 @ 10:57 AM
Kimmy - Your Question:
Hi there, I asked for a week off with my employer, this week was authorised, so I have now booked and paid for a holiday away with family. I now have a new job within the company and they now want to talk to me about my holiday request. Can they now refuse my holiday?

Our Response:
It is highly unlikely your employer will try to retract the authorisation where authorisation has been given.
WorkingRights - 15-Mar-17 @ 11:02 AM
Hi there, I asked for a week off with my employer, this week was authorised, so I have now booked and paid for a holiday away with family. I now have a new job within the company and they now want to talk to me about my holiday request.Can they now refuse my holiday?
Kimmy - 14-Mar-17 @ 12:23 PM
My employer gave me one days holiday entitlement too much they have said they will take one day from next years entitlement can they do this when it is their mistake? I told them I thought I'd taken it all but was told I still had one day and to take it before the end of January (my holiday runs from Feb-Feb).
clivesc - 24-Feb-17 @ 7:16 PM
My company has only paid me £195 ssp this month. When I've questioned why they said it's owed from last month as they received my sick note after December wages went in. The company paid everyone a week early in December and was closed for two and a half weeks for term time holidays so surely it's not my fault they opened my sick note and letter late? They said because they paid me full then they have recuperated the money this month. They haven't informed me they were going to do this or ask permission and I can't pay my monthly bills off a measly £195. I have no contract even though I've been asking for one for months. Any advise please, I'm sick with worry.
Springer5 - 30-Jan-17 @ 8:00 PM
I've recently taken 3 days holiday as I was sick on the Wednesday Thursday and Friday, I ended up in the hospital with pneumonia on the Sunday night and had to stay off the following week so I handed in a self certification Monday morning. My employer is now saying that I need a doctors line to cover the following week as my holidays have been changed to sick days, can they do this?
Dale - 30-Jan-17 @ 11:26 AM
My partner had to have 6months off of work because of extremely bad glandular fever, which 18months on, still affects him today and he also got servere depression from being so ill for so long and now, If he does too much, then the glandular fever can come back, or him depression will get bad again. Therefore, he has to take a few days off sick every few weeks to recooperate. We've now been told by his employer that every time he's been sick, its been taken off of his holiday, but he was never told this, and now we are getting married in 8weeks and his employer has only now warned us that he doesn't have much holiday left... on the 19th of January! So after we've had our honeymoon period off, he wont have anything left. Can they just take his holiday when he is sick without telling him?? This seems so unfair, should he at least of warned him so he knew what was going on??
Sophs123 - 19-Jan-17 @ 11:55 AM
I would like some advice I cover three 24 hour periods of call out cover of my holiday entitlement hence losing 3 days Holiday is this normal ?
Hippie - 12-Jan-17 @ 9:00 PM
I work for GES a global company went from temp to part time to full time in less than a six month span. I took some vacation time in nov which I was paid for because it showed on my vacation balances.. now here we are in the nEw year and they took 24 hours of holiday pay from my most recent check without my knowledge.. I found out later I was not suppose To get those vacation days yet so it was given to me by mistake now because of their mistake I can't pay my rent I have four kids and because Friday fell on the 6 and my rent was due on the 1st is not only late but I'm short.. who can I talk to about this...
Joyce - 6-Jan-17 @ 2:24 PM
@Savidge23 - if your employer has to re-coup the money paid by mistake, you can either agree to deduct the money owed from your wages or take the holiday off your holiday allowance. It is up to you to negotiate how the balance is redressed with your employer. Regards, James.
JTR56 - 4-Jan-17 @ 1:51 PM
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