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Can My Employer Take my Holidays Away?

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 9 Dec 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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HiI have worked with the same co. for 35 years and accrued 5 extra days holiday for length of service (1 day per year after ten years up to a max of 5 days) My new contract states 28 days and has a post it note attached stating that the extra days are at their discretion so will not be written into my contract. Also they have recently registered as a Ltd company but deny this despite it being clear at Companies House. My contract doesn't reflect this change. Does this have any legal implications? I wouldn't worry but qualified as a Yoga teacher two years ago and my Christian employer is not happy about this and suggested that I was on the path to hell. I feel that they are now trying to make things difficult. Help would be much appreciated. Thank you.
Starfish - 9-Dec-18 @ 4:36 PM
Hi I just contacted you we were given 2 extra days 2years ago we were given annual leave of 30 days 8 bank hols as we are closed leaving 22 days we are closed over Christmas so they take 3 or 4 days depending on the break with we find out on yearly basis leaving us 18 or 19 days for us to take ourselves . They have just issued a new policy on hols just giving us 28 days a year is this leagal to take our extra days back off us I know it is not morally right as we get no other perks we are only just above min wage !
Yatts - 20-Nov-18 @ 10:06 AM
Hi my employer gave us 2 extra days holiday approx 2years ago to be taken during school hols as we work in a nursery . That gave us 30 days a year they have now issued a new policy about bolls and we are only entitled to 28 days can they take the 2 days off us is it leagal ?
Yatty - 20-Nov-18 @ 9:55 AM
No it’s not correct. If you work bank holidays your employer can not then take this from your holiday entitlement. ACAS will verify this. Give them a ring.
ACC - 17-Nov-18 @ 12:43 PM
Hi,my firm have just merged with another and we are waiting to get new terms and conditions,at the moment I get 28 days holiday,plus bank hols and 3 days at Christmas which I've always had for 10 years,the rumour is that they are going to knock our entitlement to 25 to come in line with the firm we've merged with,plus we will have to take 3 days at Christmas,this means we will loose 7 days holiday,can they legally do this,I'm thinking because it's new terms and conditions we will either have to except or leave
Wag - 9-Nov-18 @ 7:23 AM
I work full time and have to work bank holidays but my employer still takes them off my entitlement. They say this is legal but I can't see how. Are they right
Old git - 30-Oct-18 @ 12:42 AM
Hi I'm looking for some advice. My colleague has told me if she is not given the hours stated within her contract, management have asked her to use her annual leave entitlement to cover their shortfall. Is this legal and can they do this? For example She is on a 40hr per week contract but due to the rota she is only put in for 32hrs. Management will take 8hrs off her annual leave entitlement to cover her contracted hours.
Quiz - 23-Oct-18 @ 5:15 PM
I have just taken booked annual leave at work but was unable to go back to work after holiday due to being off sick I hve a sick note will I lose my holiday pay
shelly - 15-Oct-18 @ 11:59 AM
My employer has taken holidays off me due to long term sick.They say after 13 weeks they can do this.If so how do they no how much to take back?
Stevie - 19-Sep-18 @ 6:17 AM
I work in a collage on38 week contact .I fell ill on the 21 May.My hoilday started on the 17th July finishing on the 30th August. I have asked to have my hoildayback put was refused. Where do I stand
Msmfb - 5-Sep-18 @ 12:33 AM
Mackers - Your Question:
If your employer continually turns down holiday request then at the end of the holiday period says you haven't taken all of your holiday entitlement so you loose your outstanding holidays is this legal

Our Response:
It certainly doesn't sound fair. If you’re a worker and you’ve tried solving a problem or concern informally by talking to your manager but you’re not satisfied, you can make a formal grievance complaint in writing, please see the link here .
WorkingRights - 10-Aug-18 @ 11:19 AM
If your employer continually turns down holiday request then at the end of the holiday period says you haven't taken all of your holiday entitlement so you loose your outstanding holidays is this legal
Mackers - 9-Aug-18 @ 10:24 PM
2 weeks lost - Your Question:
Hi I am a full time employee with a signed contract giving me basic 20 days a year holidays plus bank holidays. I started two and a half years ago and soon after negotiated 6 weeks a year 30 days plus bank holidays. It was done on an honour basis and now I have just been told next year my holidays will revert back to my contract of 20 days. Am I stuck with this.

Our Response:
You are not necessarily 'stuck' with this as it could be deemed to be an 'implied' part of your contract, please see link here. You may wish to speak to your employer directly regarding this matter and/or give Acas a call to explore your options.
WorkingRights - 27-Jul-18 @ 2:26 PM
Hi I am a full time employee with a signed contract giving me basic 20 days a year holidays plus bank holidays. I started two and a half years ago and soon after negotiated 6 weeks a year 30 days plus bank holidays. It was done on an honour basis and now I have just been told next year my holidays will revert back to my contract of 20 days. Am I stuck with this.
2 weeks lost - 24-Jul-18 @ 9:34 AM
Iv been working part time for 2 years I get 80hrs holiday iv tooken 1 week.in may 1 week In June iv handed in my noitce but my boss is sayin that I owe 28 hours to the company coz I took half my leave be for the half way mark.in the year but got my leave in April can she do that? Thanks
Rhysboi - 20-Jun-18 @ 9:21 AM
Sy - Your Question:
With my employer when I book days off so it’s paid my work change it to unpaid as they say I did not recruite the hours to book off ? Can they do that ?

Our Response:
Much depends upon what it says in the terms and conditions of your employment contract. If you have not accrued anough annual leave because you have recently started your job, then your emplyer can ask you to take the leave as unpaid. You can see more via the link here.
WorkingRights - 15-Jun-18 @ 12:19 PM
With my employer when I book days off so it’s paid my work change it to unpaid as they say I did not recruite the hours to book off ? Can they do that ?
Sy - 12-Jun-18 @ 8:29 AM
can my employertake away my holiday entitlement to make up the social fundbecause of the hours that i workfall short because of the weatherie , hours total 160but because of snowcan only work7 hrs a daymaxinstead of 8 hrs
clinton cook - 7-Jun-18 @ 8:40 PM
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
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