I don't want to take a holiday, but my employer is closing the business over the festive season and wants me to use my annual leave. Do I have to?

Yes. You do not have the absolute right to choose when you take your holiday and your employer can tell you when to take your leave.

However, unless your contract specifies otherwise, your employer must give you at least two days' notice for every day they want you to take. So if your employer is telling you that you must take four days' holiday, they need to tell you this at least eight days in advance.

Your employer can also refuse your request for a specific holiday date, provided it has a legitimate business reason for doing so and does not prevent you taking a holiday for too long.

Normally your contract of employment and/or your employer’s holiday policy would contain clear rules setting out when the business will close every year. A sensible employer will send out an annual reminder, in enough time to enable employees to plan their leave. If you do not have enough paid leave left over to be able to take these days as holiday, your employer can require you to stay away from work without pay, but only if your contract or holiday policy clearly allows this.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.