Travelling to non-approved countries – can we refuse the leave?Posted in : First Tuesday Q&A NI on 1 June 2021 Issues covered: Holidays; Annual Leave; Coronavirus
Can an employer refuse to allow holidays and/or cancel an employee's holiday leave if they are using the holiday to go to another country which is not on the approved travel list?
How employers choose to deal with an employee whose holiday plans would require them to quarantine, or self-isolate, on their return may depend on:
- whether the employee will be able to work from home during their quarantine period;
- the nature of the holiday entitlement in question, i.e. whether it is the employee's statutory entitlement under the Working Time Regulations (NI) 2016 or contractual.
In relation to statutory basic and additional holiday entitlement, the timing of leave is regulated by the Working Time Regulations (NI) 2016. However, these rather prescriptive provisions are subject to variation or exclusion by the employment contract or another relevant agreement. The contract may provide, for example, that:
- the taking of holiday is subject to manager approval;
- a holiday request can be refused in certain circumstances, e.g. having regard to the reasonable requirements of the business;
- subject to reasonable notice being given, the employer can stipulate that holiday is required to be taken at a particular time
- the employer can require holiday to be taken during a notice period; and/or
- unused holiday cannot be carried forward other than in specific circumstances.
If the contract does not set out how and when notice of statutory holiday entitlement must be given:
- the employee may elect to take holiday, by giving at least twice as many days’ notice in advance of the intended holiday period as the length of the intended holiday, e.g. a worker who wishes to take one week’s holiday must give at least two weeks’ notice of their intention to take that holiday;
- the employer may require the employee to take holiday on particular days, again by giving at least twice as many days’ notice in advance of the intended holiday period as the length of the intended holiday;
- the employer may require the employee not to take holiday on particular days by giving at least as many days’ notice in advance of the intended holiday period as the length of the intended holiday.
The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.