Can an employer make an employee take a day as holiday?

Many employers have been asking staff to take a day’s holiday if they could not come in because of the snow. There have been a lot of misleading headlines about holiday and absence. Here are some useful facts.

  1. An employer cannot make someone go to work
  2. There is no general legal entitlement to be paid for days not worked and many contracts/staff handbooks specifically say employees won’t be paid for absence except under the sickness, holiday or parental leave scheme
  3. Employers who keep the workplace open may ask absent employees to chose to take holiday IF they want to be paid (as opposed to unpaid leave is there is no underlying entitlement to be paid in any event)
  4. There is a difference between absence and pay – not all absences trigger a right to be paid
  5. Under the Working Time Regulations, employers may specify in advance that annual leave must be taken on days they chose. To do this they must specify date(s) in advance and give relevant notice – twice as many days in advance (of the first day of leave) as the number of days to be taken. So even one day’s leave requires two (full) days notice. This device does not usually cover shut downs needed at short notice
  6. Some employers have their own rules for specifying leave dates that may over ride these rules
  7. Parents taking time off to look after their children have no general right to be paid
  8. Some employers are offering additional hours to catch up on the backlog and to help employees catch up on pay
  9. Many employers are paying people who attended work on the basis of a full day even if they arrived late or went early (though not all are obliged to do so)
  10. The 48 hour working maximum under working time regulations is an average, not an absolute ceiling, so workers can work longer hours to get things back to normal

Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy.   Tel: 08452 303050  Fax: 08452 303060  Website :  You can follow Annabel on twitter –


Filed under contract, employment law, pay

2 responses to “Can an employer make an employee take a day as holiday?

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  2. Pingback: Managing People – Can an employer make an employee take a day as holiday? | WiseWolf Talking - the WiseWolf Coaching Blog

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