How Much Notice Does an Employee Have to Give to take a Holiday?

Employees holiday entitlement is governed by a combination of the Working Time Regulations (“WTR”) and their contract of employment. Since 1 April 2009 an employee has been entitled to 5.6 weeks paid annual holiday per year (“the WTR Holiday Entitlement”) and thus an employee working 5 days per week has from that date been entitled to 28 days paid holiday per year including Bank Holidays.

An employee’s contract of employment may give the employee more than the WTR Holiday Entitlement but cannot give less.

Strictly if an employee wishes to take one or more of days off of their WTR Holiday Entitlement the employee has to give their employer the appropriate period of notice required by the WTR before they take their holiday.

Put simply under the WTR employees must give notice in advance of any intended WTR Holiday Entitlement dates, and that notice must be twice as many days as they wish to take off (for example if an employee wanted to take 10 days of their WTR Holiday Entitlement they would have to give their employer 20 days notice). Note that this provision in the WTR can be varied by the employees employment contract, so that even longer notice can be required to be given in respect of the WTR Holiday Entitlement.

If an employee’s contract of employment gives the employee a right to holiday in excess of the WTR Holiday Entitlement (“the Extra Days Holiday”) the employees contract of employment is entitled to state that if the employee wishes to take the Extra Days Holiday that they must give a different period of notice than that for the WTR Holiday Entitlement.

Many employers are prepared to allow an employee to take the WTR Holiday Entitlement and any Extra Days Holiday that the employee is entitled to without strictly relying on the notice provisions in the WTR. An employer is perfectly entitled to do this. However if an employer has not relied on the strict notice provisions in respect of some employees yet does seek to rely on them in respect of others there may be a situation (depending on the circumstances) where an employee is entitled to resign and claim that they have been constructively dismissed and claim damages for unfair dismissal particularly if an Employment Tribunal considers that the employer has acted unreasonably, arbitrarily or capriciously.

If you would like further information please contact Ian Harvey on (01553) 666610 or via email at