Can my Employer Change my Holiday Entitlement, & Tell me When to Take Them?

I need to know if my employer can change my holiday entitlement, telling me when to take them? I work in a factory and we are generally given 23 days off per year paid holiday. They are usually 1 week for Whitsun, 2 weeks in the summer (15 days total when factory shut is down) and 8 floating days to be taken at our convenience.

We work split shifts (6-2/2-10/10-6) on a rolling basis and 3 teams (A shift, B shift and C shift) each cover, so the factory is open 24 hours.

We’ve now been told our holidays are changing next year. We HAVE to take 1 week in March, 1 week for Whitson (closure). Also 1 week in October. Week 1 in the month will be A shift, week 2 is B shift, and week 3 will be C shift).

Also, we have been told out of our 8 floating days, 5 will be needed to use over Xmas. This is because there is not enough work to cover. So we finish 2 days earlier and return 3 days later than scheduled. This means we have 3 days to be taken as paid holidays throughout the full summer. Are they allowed to do this?

(S.E, 17 October 2021)

holiday request form

The answer to this is basically yes, but you should have a say in the change.

The most important thing to say at this point is that you take advice from a properly qualified source. I’d suggest you look at what your employment contract says about holiday entitlements, and contact ACAS to discuss your rights.

Change of Contract

In most cases, employers can dictate when you take your holiday entitlement. But if your contract clearly states the arrangements you have outlined in your question, and they are changing it dramatically, then it amounts to a change in Your Employment Contract.

This should be discussed and agreed with you, either individually or as a group, through staff or union representatives. It is possible that your employers might be persuaded to put some sort of compensation into the deal to sweeten it but they are not legally obliged to do so.

Your Options

You can choose to leave, of course. Your employers must feel that they are in a strong position in terms of finding replacement employees. Such a dramatic change might lead to a lot of employees leaving.

If you are against the changes and negotiating doesn’’t work, then you can refuse to accept the change. However, you must get legal advice before taking this step.

The next step is likely to be to resign and then bring a claim against your employers for constructive dismissal. However, you must be sure of your ground before you go down this road.

To get expert help with this, go to the Citizens Advice Bureau, which won’t cost you anything in the first place. They should be able to point you in the direction of a lawyer who specialises in employment law. Or, if you are lucky enough to be a Trade Union member, go straight to their representative for guidance.

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