Miniature farmer & tractor: can our farm manager go away on holiday for two weeks?!

Question: Our farm manager wants to go on holiday for two weeks and take his son, who also works for us. The manager started with us 16 months ago; the son started nine months ago and says he has 11 days annual leave accrued.

We can't do without our farm manager for two whole weeks! And with his son going as well, that leaves us with no-one to milk the cows. Are they allowed to go on leave together? Can we tell him he can take one week's holiday at a time?

Answer: Once your farm manager reached his one year anniversary of employment with you he became entitled to four weeks of annual leave, and you must allow him to take at least two weeks of that as uninterrupted holidays.

As his son has not been employed by you for a full year he is not entitled to paid leave at this stage.

Timing and duration of annual leave

All employees are entitled to four weeks of paid annual leave after each 12 months of continuous employment for their employer.

When it comes to taking that leave the timing and duration should be mutually-agreed upon by both parties, with the following rights for employees and employers coming into play:

Employees have the right to:

  • take at least 2 weeks of leave at once (if they want to)

  • take leave at any time during the year, as long as their employer agrees

  • carry over leave into the next year (though the employer can make them take leave in some circumstances).

Employers can:

  • tell a worker when they should take time off, as long as they give at least 2 weeks' notice

  • restrict when they can take time off - for example, at busy periods - however they can't unreasonably refuse.

Accrued annual holidays

The concept of accrued holidays is not found in the Holidays Act 2003, but it acts as a useful tool for employers to estimate their financial liability for annual leave, and may be helpful for employees to see their progress towards becoming entitled to their four weeks of paid annual leave.

It can, however, also be confusing for employees to see an accrued holidays balance on their payslips, because they are not legally entitled to take accrued holidays until they reach their yearly anniversary.

Although employers are under no legal obligation to allow employees to take holidays in advance, they may use the accrued annual leave balance to help them decide:

  • whether to agree to an employee's request to take annual holidays in advance; and if so,

  • how many weeks'/ days annual holidays in advance the employee can take.

The number of holiday days paid in advance will then be deducted from the accrued balance, and reduce the following year's annual leave entitlement.

Got annual leave questions? Please contact Vicki, our payroll, HR and employment specialist - she will be happy to assist.

Vicki Cozens, Chartered Accountant at Ean Brown Partners Ltd

Vicki Cozens

Chartered Accountant

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