Holiday planning

Holiday planning: How to prepare for your employees' annual leave

Holiday planning is part of employers’ tasks and partly consists of distributing holidays between employees without affecting the company's operations and partly of ensuring that the applicable rules regarding holidays and notices are complied with. In this article, you can learn more about the rules regarding holiday planning.

The Holiday Act has its own rules for when, as an employer, you must notify your employees of when they can take leave.

As an employer, you have a duty to discuss the planning of leave with your employees, but if you cannot agree with your employees on the planning, you will always have the opportunity to issue a notification of the dates of the leave. However, it is important that you give such notice in accordance with the applicable rules.

Employees must be notified in time

As the employer, you decide when leave can be taken. While the operation of your company takes priority, you also have a duty to accommodate the wishes of your employees to the extent possible. For example, this applies to holiday during schools' summer leave period if the employees have children of school age.

The following rules apply to notification of leave:

  • Notification of the main holiday period of 3 weeks must be given at least 3 months before the taking of it in the period from 1 May to 30 September.
  • The remaining 2 weeks of annual leave must be taken before the end of the period for taking holiday, and notification of this must be given at least 1 month in advance.

It is your duty to notify your employees well in advance.

Your employees are entitled to three weeks of continuous main holiday. However, you and your employees may agree that the rule be deviated from, resulting in either a shorter holiday or the scheduling of the main holiday outside the main holiday period. However, employees always have the right to take a minimum of 10 consecutive days of holiday.

Deviation from the Holiday Act's notification rules

Due to force majeure, cf. section 15 of the Holiday Act, employers may disregard the notice rules of the Holiday Act. Whether force majeure exists presupposes a legal assessment at the moment when the company wants the taking of leave to be effected. A new change in the law now also allows the transfer of more than 5 days if the reason for the non-taking of said leave is due to significant and unforeseeable operational matters as a result of COVID-19.

Collective holiday closing

If everyone at your company is to take leave collectively, the same notices must continue to be complied with. If the notices are not complied with, your employees are entitled to pay during the holiday closure, without it costing them any leave days. This means that your employees will not spend paid leave days during the period when your company is closed.

Therefore, remember to include the period during which your company may be closed for the holidays in the overall holiday planning for your employees.

Employees' right to take leave

When planning annual leave for your employees, it is important to keep in mind that they always have the right to take 5 weeks of annual leave every year. As a rule, this applies regardless of whether the employee has earned the annual leave or not. This may be the case, for example, if the employee has not been in the labour market for a long time or if the employee has switched jobs, prompting a significant change in salary.

However, employees are not obliged to take leave if they have not earned a salary or holiday pay. Yet, if your company will close for holidays, as the employer, you can still order these employees to take leave during that period.

If the employee has earned leave, you can demand that the leave be taken.

To be sure of your employees' rights in terms of annual leave, you should check whether the individual employees are covered by a collective agreement or have a local agreement that deviates from the general conditions of the Holiday Act.

Non-taken leave

Employees have the right to take all leave before 1 May, and correspondingly, you have the opportunity to issue the employee with a notification of this before the deadline occurs. If the employee is unable to take leave in time, you can enter into an agreement that excess holiday will be taken in subsequent leave years.

Prepare – familiarise yourself with the rules for rescheduling agreed leave

Even if you plan well in advance, unforeseen situations may arise that require you or your employees to change or postpone leave. For example, this may happen due to illness or the operations of the company.

As a general rule, agreed leave cannot be changed – even if you can make the change within the required notice period. Planned leave can only be changed in very special situations, such as necessity out of consideration for the company's operations – situations that it was not possible for you to anticipate. However, as an employer, you must compensate employees for financial losses resulting from changing or postponing employees' leave, and you cannot interrupt leave that has already begun.

A more likely situation where leave may be changed or postponed is if an employee becomes ill before or during leave and therefore may be entitled to compensatory leave.

Changes under the new Holiday Act

In September 2020, the new Holiday Act came into force. And that has led to changes that affect your company's planning of leave. Here are the points you need to pay particular attention to regarding leave planning under the new Holiday Act:

  • Employees are still entitled to 5 weeks of annual leave per year.
  • According to the new Holiday Act, the leave period is 16 months, running from 1 September to 31 December of the following year.
  • You can give employees the right to take leave in advance in exchange for you offsetting it in the subsequent leave qualifying period
  • If an employee has been employed throughout the previous leave year, until the company's holiday closure, as an employer you must ensure that the employee has the number of hours required for the holiday closure period. Otherwise, you must give the employee advance leave.
  • Change of payment date of 1% holiday supplement

In relation to leave planning, the following rules continue to apply in the new Holiday Act. That is:

  • You must follow the same rules regarding notification.
  • You can continue to stay collectively closed for holidays.
  • The same rules apply for changing agreed leave.
  • Employees are still entitled to 5 weeks of annual leave.

Be aware of the applicable laws and regulations for your particular employees

As an employer, you may have employees employed under very different terms in terms of annual leave. The Holiday Act lays down the foundation for your and your employees' rights in relation to the Holiday Act. However, if your employees are subject to a collective agreement, they will often have improved holiday terms, which you are obliged to comply with. In addition to this, your employees may have a local agreement, which you are also obliged to comply with.

Want to know more about annual leave? 

Do you need advice in relation to planning your employees' leave or other HR challenges? Please contact us. We are ready to help.


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