Q: Can employers require employees to take annual leave if the business is shut down over the Christmas period?

A: For those businesses that close over the Christmas period, employers will need to put in place arrangements requiring workers to take annual leave at that time.

Provided that there is no agreement to the contrary, employers can allocate leave to a particular time.  An employer needs to give notice that is at least double the period of leave that the employee is required to take although, in practice, employers should build the requirement into their holiday policy and give staff plenty of notice, to avoid disappointment and demotivation.

If a member of staff has run out of holidays for the year, the employer cannot force them to take unpaid leave or force them to bring forward holiday entitlement from the next holiday year.  It’s therefore important to monitor an employee’s holiday records to ensure that they have sufficient holidays still available to take over this period.   

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