Can an employer require its employees to take holiday at a particular time?

Regulation 15(5) of the Working Time Regulations 1998 (SI 1998/1833) provides that the procedures that must be complied with regarding requests for, or refusal of, annual leave may be set out in a relevant agreement. A relevant agreement is a collective or workforce agreement, or any other written individual agreement that is legally enforceable between the worker and the employer, for example a contract of employment.

In the absence of a relevant agreement, reg.15(2) states that a worker's employer may require them to take annual leave on particular days by giving the appropriate notice. Such notice should specify the day or days on which leave is required to be taken and must be given twice as many days in advance of the earliest day specified in the notice as the number of days to which the notice relates, ie the length of notice must be at least twice the period of leave it requires the worker to take (reg.15(3) and (4)). For example, if the employer requires the worker to take one week's annual leave at a particular time, it must give the worker at least two weeks' advance notice.