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Very occasionally employees do not take holiday. Care should be taken over this as it can cause problems for you in the future.

Leaving holiday to the year end

What frequently happens is that employees simply overlook taking holiday and then when the end of your holiday year approaches you find more holiday requests that you can accommodate. You may even be faced with requests to make payments in lieu of holiday. It is unlawful to pay statutory holiday in lieu other than on termination of employment. Nor can you carry statutory holiday over to a later period (in most circumstances). Holiday is an entitlement, subtly different from a right. You are entitled to expect reasonable notice and you can refuse holiday if the timing cannot be accommodated reasonably. To ensure reasonableness you might insist that all holiday not booked, and approved, by a certain time (say 3 months before the holiday year end) is liable to be refused. This is best put in the terms and conditions of employment. Please contact us for suitable wording. A reminder sent to employees shortly before the deadline approaches would also be wise.

Simply not wanting holiday

Sometimes people who are lonely prefer to be at work. Since holiday is an entitlement you cannot normally insist employees take their holiday. And, again, you cannot make payments in lieu or carry the holiday over to another year. However you may want to consider whether it is healthy, or even in your best interests, for an employee to take no holiday. Lack of holiday may reduce a person’s productivity or effectiveness, especially in a stressful occupation. You might want to make it a contractual obligation to take holiday, or at least to encourage it. Please contact us for suitable wording.

Something to conceal

Having a good look at the work someone is doing, as may well be required while someone is on holiday, can be revealing. Therefore making the taking of holiday a contractual obligation may be wise for senior positions in particular. Please contact us for suitable wording.

Too crucial to the business to take holiday

This may be you! There is a temptation to think that working for twelve months a year produces a year’s worth of work. That is highly questionable. More likely it is spending a month or so taking holiday each year that will really produce a year’s worth of work.

Malcolm Martin FCIPD

Author Human Resource Practice

Blogs are for general guidance and are not an authoritative statement of the law.