Holiday requests: what if employees want to go in the same period?
Hurrah for the holidays!
With summer here again, many of us will soon be going on holiday. While this is a time when most people can relax, employers may actually face scheduling challenges that can be very stressful. This holds especially true for the hospitality industry, where nice weather means lots of tourists and crowded terraces and, as a result, a high demand for staff.
But what if a lot of employees want to go on holiday over the same period? Can you refuse a holiday request and, as an employer, do you have a say in the scheduling of your employees’ holiday periods?
1. An employee’s holiday request: can you refuse it?
Employees are legally entitled to a minimum of twenty days’ holiday per year for full-time employment. The Collective Labour Agreement for the hospitality industry adds five additional days’ holiday for employees working in this industry. Employers must give their employees the opportunity to take the minimum number of days of holiday, in order to allow employees to recover from their work. Although the basic legal principle is that an employer will schedule an employee’s holiday according to what the employee wants, the employer may refuse an employee’s holiday request if the employer has serious reasons for doing so. But when exactly does the employer have these “serious reasons”?
An employer has a serious reason to refuse the holiday request if approving it would “cause a serious business disruption”. In that case, the consequences for the employer of refusing the holiday request must be assessed against the consequences for the employee. A reason can only be a serious one if the employer’s interest in refusing the holiday request carries so much weight that it reasonably outweighs the employee’s interest in taking a holiday during that period.
This would be the case, for example, if several employees working at a seasonal business wanted to take their holidays over the seasonal peak or if a small business would have to close if the holiday request were granted, because there was no replacement available.
The employer should be mindful of the need to respond to the employee’s holiday request in good time. After the employee has requested a holiday over a certain period, in principle the employer has two weeks to respond to the request in writing and explain the serious reasons for any refusal. If the employer fails to do this, the holiday is fixed according to what the employee wants.
However, if the employee cannot take the requested holidays due to serious reasons on the employer’s side, the employer is required, if the employee asks for this, to schedule the employee’s holiday in such a way that the employee can still take a holiday for two consecutive weeks or can take one week’s holiday on two separate occasions. Also, the employer must in any event schedule the employee’s holiday with enough time for the employee to make the necessary preparations for their holiday.
2. Approved holidays: can they be changed?
If an employer has already approved an employee’s holiday period, the employer cannot simply withdraw the approval previously given. As with refusal of the holiday request, the employer needs serious reasons for cancelling or changing the approved holiday. The employer must compensate the employee for the loss suffered as a result of the change in the holiday period, even if the employee agrees to the change.
3. Creating an opportunity to take a holiday: are employers required to do this?
Most employees will take a holiday every year, but what if an employee refuses to take their holidays?
While it remains the employee’s personal responsibility to take the holidays, employers are obliged to encourage an employee to take the holidays if they are about to expire. The entitlement to statutory holidays expires six months after the last day of the calendar year when the entitlement was acquired, unless the employee has not reasonably been able to take a holiday before then.
Lees deze tekst hier in het Nederlands.