Are my holidays justified?

I am in my second year of trading and not counting my business partners I have just three staff. My concern is about annual leave; how much I have to grant and the extent to which we can dictate when it is used. Ideally, I would like staff to use some of their leave during the Christmas break and a fortnight during the summer when the whole company can go on leave. Is it fully legal to enforce this and how do I ensure that I don’t come unstuck.

A. Clive Mackintosh of Mackintosh solicitors writes:

Although you are a small business, you still need to comply with the Working Time Regulations 1998. This states that all workers, have a statutory right to 4.8 week’s paid leave each year with effect from October 1, 2007. This amounts to 24 days for workers who work a five day week and public and bank holidays can be counted as eight of the 24 days. Of course, savvy employers would not count these eight days as statutory but give them as extra holidays during the year.

Annual leave should always be agreed with an employee before or at the start of employment and recorded in a written contract. By law a statement of a company’s employment particulars must be handed to an employee within two months of the start of their employment. Both of these documents should contain sufficient information to enable holiday entitlement to be calculated. An employee’s holiday year is usually determined in their contract of employment. Otherwise, the holiday year will start on October 1 if the employee started work on or before October 1 1998 or on the actual date the worker commenced employment if this was after October 1 1998. The good news for you is that under the Working Time Regulations 1998 you can control and dictate when holidays should be taken. This can include shutting down your business for certain periods or nominating particular dates such as the preferences you’ve mentioned. Although you can set leave, it is good practice to include this in employees’ contracts. If it isn’t then they can be amended with the express agreement of the employees’ concerned. In the absence of any agreement, you’re required to give notice to take leave, which is double the amoun t of the holiday to be taken. Also, this should be done in writing.


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