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With the warm May weather, it can finally be said that summer is fast approaching. No doubt workers across Scotland will be looking to request time off for their summer holidays, but where do workers stand when their boss does not allow them the time off that they request?

Full time workers have a statutory entitlement to 5.6 weeks (28 days) of holiday each leave year. This is made up of 4 weeks (20 days) of basic entitlement, and 1.6 weeks (8 days) of additional entitlement. The basic entitlement derives from European Law, whereas the additional entitlement derives from UK law. For each week of statutory holiday, workers are entitled to be paid at the rate of a week’s pay, this should include all bonus payments, commission and overtime. Workers should not lose money when they take a holiday.

 In addition to the above entitlements, a worker may be entitled to additional days of holiday leave under their contract of employment.

Although workers have a statutory entitlement to 28 days paid holiday per year, this does not mean that workers have an absolute right to take their annual leave whenever they like. Rather employers can decline a worker’s request to take annual leave where they have a business reason to do so, such as workflow or other colleagues being off. In the same way employers can require workers to take annual leave at certain times, such as on public holidays, in between Christmas and New Year, or in line with the academic calendar.

In addition, it is worth noting that despite the additional entitlement of 8 days, there is no statutory right to take bank or public holidays as paid annual leave, instead the right to take leave on such days is governed by the express or implied terms of the worker's contract. Hence, some employers require workers to work some or all of the public holidays, and take their additional days leave at other times in the year.

Workers should also bear in mind that some employers may have rules about how long workers can take off. For example, some employers may not allow workers to take their 5.6 weeks in one block. Again provisions for this will be made in the worker’s contract of employment.

Although employers can require workers to take time off a certain time and can decline worker’s request for annual leave, if workers are not allowed to take their 5.6 weeks holiday at all, then they may be entitled to make a claim for unlawful deductions of wages at the Employment Tribunal. This could be a one off failure to pay holiday pay, or an ongoing failure to pay holiday pay over a period of time. The time limit for lodging such a claim is 3 months minus one day that the holiday pay should have been paid.

Unfortunately the law around holiday entitlement is, in some ways, more favourable to the employer. If you are looking to book time off for your summer holiday it is advisable to book your time off with your employer early to avoid disappointment and to check the terms of your employment contract to understand what your specific holiday entitlement is.

Blog by Alice Bowman


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