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Procedures for granting annual holiday and notifying timing of holiday

Updated: 06.04.2020

These procedures apply to the granting of annual holiday:

  • an employer must explain to employees or their representative the general principles for granting annual holiday 
  • before determining the holiday, an employer must give employees the opportunity to express their wishes as to the time of the holiday 
  • as far as possible an employer must take the wishes expressed into consideration 
  • an employer must treat employees equally 
  • deciding the timing of annual holiday comes under an employer's management right, within legal limits.

Giving notification of the timing of annual holiday:

  • an employer must give notification of the timing of a holiday no later than one month before the start of the holiday
  •  an employer is required if necessary to justify, and provide evidence of this, as to why the one-month notification period could not be complied with 
  • if it is not possible for an employer (in other words it is impossible) to give notification of a holiday no later than one month before, notification can be given later, but no later than two weeks before the start of the holiday. In this case also, the timing of the holiday must be notified as soon as possible. Moreover, an employer may not determine that a holiday will start so as to make the notification period shorter than two weeks, unless the holiday period in question is otherwise agreed upon by an employer and an employee.
  • a one-month advance notification period is necessary so that an employee can make his or her holiday plans in time. Where an employer determines the timing of a holiday, a one-month notification period is the absolute general rule that may be diverged from only if required for genuine reasons. The reasons must relate to the organisation of the employer's production or service activities and the effects of this on the timing of employees' holidays. A reason of this type could be for example 
    • confirmation of a large order affecting the organisation of work just before the holiday season or
    • the effect of the unexpected absence of another employer on the timing of other employees' holidays.
  • if an employer orders an employee to take annual holiday without complying with the mandatory two-week notification period and the timing of the holiday is not agreed in that connection, the employer is not entitled to require the employee to go on holiday. Then the employer must postpone the holiday in question so that the two-week notification period before the start of the holiday is met.

Employer's notification of the timing of a holiday is binding on the employer:

  • the binding nature of a holiday notification does not depend on whether an employer has given notification in good time before the one-month time limit or not. 
  • an employee must be able to rely on the validity of the notification 
  • an employer cannot change the notification by a new notification even if the one-month time limit has not yet been met. 
    • the binding nature of a holiday notification applies to a notification that is intended to be binding (confirmed), and not for example to an employer's initial proposals for holiday dates - on which an employee may express his or her own views - or conditional advance notifications. If an employer gives an advance notification, he or she must also make sure that the actual holiday notification is given within the legal time limit.    
  • the timing of a notified holiday can only be changed with the employee's consent.

An employer is liable for detriment caused to an employee resulting from the employer changing the timing of an already notified holiday:

  • if the change causes detriment to an employee, the employer's liability for damage is determined on the basis of Section 12:1 of the Employment Contracts Act
  • an employer is liable for the damages caused to an employee and resulting from changing the timing of a holiday 
    • among other things, charges for cancelling a journey or charges for cancelling a rental contract (e.g. if an employee has rented a holiday home)
    •  an employee is liable for demonstrating the damage caused,  so it is advisable to keep receipts, slips and other such documents 

Timing of holiday changed in contravention of Annual Holidays Act – what an employee should do:

  • an employee must comply with the employer's stipulated new holiday timing 
    • if in this situation the employee sticks to the original holiday notification and goes on holiday, the absence is considered unauthorised absence, the consequences of which are assessed in accordance with the provisions of the Employment Contracts Act. 
      • in assessing the seriousness of the action in this case, the employer's unlawful action must naturally also be taken into account.
  • if an employee has already gone on holiday before the employer's notification of the changed holiday timing, the employer is not entitled to interrupt annual holiday already started (Labour Council, TN 955-1973.37).

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