Q: Can an employee insist on taking holidays during the Christmas period?
A: No. In the absence of an agreement to the contrary, workers must give notice equal to twice the length of the holiday that they wish to take.
The employer can give counter notice requiring that the leave not be taken, so long as this counter notice is equivalent to the length of the holiday requested, and the worker is not prevented from taking the leave to which he or she is entitled in that holiday year.
Where an employee has accrued untaken leave and gives reasonable notice to the employer to take the leave, the employer must have valid business reasons for refusing the request.
Where an employee insists on taking leave and does so without approval, the employer should approach the issue sensibly and be careful not to impose a disproportionate penalty on the employee. In the case of Stott v Next Retail Ltd, for example, an employee who was dismissed for failing to attend work without permission on Christmas Eve was found to have been unfairly dismissed by an employment tribunal as the dismissal was deemed not to be proportionate to the misconduct.
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