Greek wildfires curb employees’ holidays

  • Business Advice
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

The wildfires in Greece that have resulted from the extreme heatwave across Europe have played havoc with holiday plans. Tourists are coming home early or are abandoning their travel plans. But what does this mean for the annual leave they have already booked with you?

The entitlement to annual leave for workers is found in the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR). The law says that employees must give employers notice of the leave they wish to take which is double the amount of time off they want to book. Put simply, if they want to take one week of leave, they must give their employer two weeks’ notice. Employers can, of course, choose to waive this if they want to.

The law also sets out when an employer might want to require an employee to take leave, or not take leave (such as where an employer wants to cancel a pre-booked period of leave or stop the booking of leave on certain days, such as during a busy promotional campaign).

But what about when a worker wants to cancel a period of leave they have already booked in and had authorisation for?

To cancel a booked period of leave,  workers will need to ask you whether it can be cancelled. If a request to cancel a period of holiday comes in, you have no obligation to accept the request. It is a request, after all, and you are able to accept of decline it in the same way as when a request to take annual leave comes in.

The circumstances may dictate your ability to agree; short-notice cancellations may be tricker to cancel because you may have organised cover which cannot now be changed whereas if plenty of notice is given of the cancellation request, it may cause less disruption for you to agree to it. Whatever you decide, it should be reasonable. Failure to ensure this could lead to damaged employee relations and the possibility of problems in the future.

Where you cannot accept the cancellation request as a whole, you should consider if it is possible to allow for some of the days to be cancelled, as the employee could then take a shortened period of holiday and have the chance to take the remaining leave at another time. Either way, you should let the employee know as soon as possible that all (or some) of the annual leave remains booked and will come off their overall entitlement as originally planned.

Alternatively, you might be able to accommodate the request. If this is the case, this should be communicated to the employee and their outstanding leave entitlement be re-adjusted to include these days. However, when doing this, it should be made clear to the employee that they are still expected to take all of their annual leave in the current annual leave year, if you operate a “use it or lose it” system. If some carry-over is permitted, the employee should be reminded of the limitations of this.

For more information on the annual leave rights, visit BrAInbox today where you can find answers to questions like Can I contact an employee when they are on holiday?

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