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New rules on holiday entitlement


Under the Working Time Directive, from Tuesday next (23 November) employees must be given an extra week's annual paid holiday.

The present three-week entitlement rises to four weeks. Most employees will this year get a pro-rata fraction of the extra week, depending on how much of their "holiday year' falls before November 23. Next year they will be entitled to the full extra week.

There is no opt-out; provided that workers have been on the payroll for 13 weeks, the holiday entitlement applies.
However, it is likely the effect on most employees will be slight, because many of them already receive the four-week entitlement, and the new law allows employers to include "statutory" days off, such as Bank Holidays and Christmas. Employees whose contracts cite the common "four weeks plus statutory holidays" will see no change in their entitlement.

The four weeks must be taken, and cannot be paid "in lieu", and this rule could hit bosses of growing businesses who are not taking up their entitlement. Anyone paid as an employee of the business must take the holiday allowance.

Notice periods are also specified. Employees must tell employers of their intention to take a holiday, but the length of notice required is only twice the duration of the intended holiday - two weeks for a one-week holiday, for example.

Employers who wish to refuse the request must respond within a period equivalent to the proposed holiday - one week from the date of the request, for example, for a one-week holiday.


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