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Can My Employer Take my Holidays Away?

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 17 Apr 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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[Add a Comment]
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
I started a new job in November and I told them I had 3 days holiday from my old job which I was willing to take unpaid which my boss aloud me to have off. I have now found out that my boss paid me for the 3 days off and has told me that he has booked me 3 days holiday in the new year when I will still be at work. He said I will loose 3 days of my holiday this year to cover them. Can they do this because it now leaves me short this year? Thanks
Savidge23 - 3-Jan-17 @ 6:27 PM
Sophia - Your Question:
Hi I've been with my employer since April I was told I had 10 days holiday so I used 5days in October for a holiday and planned to use the rest in January. I've now been informed my holidays have ran out and they ran out in October as we're not allowed time off over the Christmas period.I'm part time but have done lots of 30hour weeks. I've been told there's nothing they will do for me as it was a previous managers mess up.Am I entitled to be paid them still as I go above and beyond foe the company and many times have covered people I feel I've been kicked in the teeth here

Our Response:
You would have to read your contract and see what it specifies about your holiday and when your holiday year is up - all the details should be contained in it and it is up to you to monitor when your holiday period ends. It is up to your employer if they wish to give you a quid pro quo arrangement for the times you have helped out, but your employer is under no obligation if you have been paid for that work and are not eligible for time off in lieu.
WorkingRights - 16-Dec-16 @ 11:00 AM
Hi I've been with my employer since April I was told I had 10 days holiday so I used 5days in October for a holiday and planned to use the rest in January. I've now been informed my holidays have ran out and they ran out in October as we're not allowed time off over the Christmas period. I'm part time but have done lots of 30hour weeks. I've been told there's nothing they will do for me as it was a previous managers mess up. Am I entitled to be paid them still as I go above and beyond foe the company and many times have covered people I feel I've been kicked in the teeth here
Sophia - 15-Dec-16 @ 5:34 PM
La - Your Question:
My contract states I am entitled to six months full and six months 1\2 sick pay. Im on long term sick leave following surgery. When my pay reduced to 1/2 pay during month five my employer told me it was because they were only paying sick for actual working days and not for any holiday entitlement which I would be able to use when I return to work. Is this allowed?

Our Response:
Check the terms and conditions of your contract, the terms of sick pay and how it is paid should be included. Sick Pay is usually paid for the days a employee normally works - which are termed ‘qualifying days’
WorkingRights - 13-Dec-16 @ 12:28 PM
My contract states I am entitled to six months full and six months 1\2 sick pay. Im on long term sick leave following surgery. When my pay reduced to 1/2 pay during month five my employer told me it was because they were only paying sick for actual working days and not for any holiday entitlement which I would be able to use when I return to work. Is this allowed?
La - 13-Dec-16 @ 2:47 AM
i had to hand my paperwork in at the office every friday even when i have booked that week off other wise i do not get payed for that week.i was still on holiday the saturday and the following tuesday.i was asked by my boss why did i want the tuesday off?only to find she had not covered my saturday nor the following tuesday even although she gave permission the monday before can she do this
teddybear - 11-Dec-16 @ 3:45 PM
Nilo - Your Question:
My boss now advises me when I book a weeks holiday 7 days I am using 7 days of my entitlement even though I only work a normal 5 day week. I am losing 2 days holiday each time I book a week off?

Our Response:
If you request a holiday for a week's annual leave, it is based on 'working' days, meaning you should be give five days holiday excluding the weekend. Your employer cannot factor in the weekend (i.e days not usually worked) to your annual leave.
WorkingRights - 2-Dec-16 @ 11:15 AM
My boss now advises me when I book a weeks holiday 7 days I am using 7 days of my entitlement even though I only work a normal 5 day week. I am losing 2 days holiday each time I book a week off?
Nilo - 1-Dec-16 @ 3:54 PM
I need help. I worked 3 days a week which entitled me to 12 days holiday from march 2016-march 2017. I have booked all my days off at the beginning of the year, including my last few days in February. My days have now been changed to 2 days a week (working the same amount of hours just less days) and they are saying I can't take my holidays in Feb because I now only work 2 days a week. Is this right? I feel a little bit played that I've worked all year to earn a week off and now to be told I can't take it.
Lauranelly - 23-Nov-16 @ 9:34 PM
I employed as a cleaner I'm entitled to 4 week's leave have only had 3 I asked when I can take my other week and was told I will have to lose because they are all booked up untill the end of year I lost holiday last year because of this it's no fault of my own a text him with holiday I want he Texas back sorry can't have that it could be months before he is able to fit my holiday in what can i Do
Nannypat - 21-Nov-16 @ 3:21 PM
Hi iv had a weeks holiday booked in at work i have just handed my 2 week notice in and been ill the day before my holidays start my company have said i wont get paid for my holidays and changed my time off to sickness so im just confussed as to how they can do this and will i get paid for them 7 days unused in my last pay packet
Lea - 13-Nov-16 @ 11:50 AM
My husband was off sick with a bad back for two weeks from work.He has had his annual leave taken from him instead of given statuatory sick pay with no discussion or consent.Is his company able to do this leagally?
unhappy - 2-Nov-16 @ 1:11 PM
Can my employer force me to take two days unpaid sick leave out of my holiday entitlement?
Clair72 - 6-Oct-16 @ 6:16 PM
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