Can I take holiday in my notice period?

In the UK, knowing about holiday rights is really important for jobs. It’s a big part of the law that deals with work. Both people who work and their bosses need to understand how holidays should be taken when someone is about to leave their job. This is what we call the ‘notice period’ – the time between when someone says they’re going to quit and their last working day.

This article is here to help explain the rules in the UK about taking holidays during this notice period. It’s useful for both workers and bosses to know these rules. For workers, it helps them use their holiday time rightly before they leave. For bosses, it’s about managing holidays fairly and following the law. The aim is to give a clear picture of how holiday should be handled when someone is in their notice period. This way, everyone knows what to expect and can plan accordingly.

Holiday Entitlement

Under UK law, every worker has a right to get at least 5.6 weeks of paid holiday each year. This is the same as 28 days for someone who works full-time. This number of days off is protected by law, which means it’s a must and can’t be cut down.

Sometimes, when a person decides to quit their job, they might not have used all their holiday days. In these situations, the boss can ask the worker to use up some or all of their leftover holiday during the time they’re still working their notice. This is the period between when the worker says they’re going to leave and their last day at the job.

But, the worker also gets a say in this. They can choose if they want to take their holiday before they start their notice period, after it’s finished, or during it. If they decide to take it during the notice period, they can also have a say in when exactly they want to take it. This means they don’t always have to take their holiday exactly when the boss wants them to.

So, in simple terms, both the boss and the worker have rights when it comes to using holiday days during the notice period. The boss can ask the worker to use their holidays then, but the worker can choose when to take them during that time.

Follow Your Regular Absence Policy

It’s good to know that workers can choose when to take their holiday during their notice period, but this only works if their boss tells them in advance when they should take it. The rule is that the boss should give the worker a heads-up that’s at least double the length of the holiday they want them to take. For example, if the boss wants the worker to take two days off, they should tell them at least four days before.

It’s also important to always look at the company’s rules about time off – these are often called the ‘absence policy’. This policy might have more details or specific rules about taking holiday. Even when someone is in their notice period, this policy still applies. So, if you’re working your notice, make sure to check these rules to understand how your holiday should be booked and taken during this time.

Requiring an Employee to Take Holiday

If a boss asks a worker to take some of their holiday during the time they are working out their notice, the boss must still pay them their normal wages for these holiday days. This means the worker gets paid the same amount as they usually would for working, even though they’re on holiday.

Also, if the worker decides on their own to take holiday during their notice period, they still get their usual pay for these days. However, there’s something to remember here: if their job contract says they need to work a certain number of hours each week, they might have to work extra later to make up for the hours they missed while on holiday.

There’s another important point about unused holiday. If a worker hasn’t taken all their holiday days before their notice period ends, the boss can move these leftover days to the next year. This means the worker can take these holidays later on. But, if the worker is leaving the job and still has unused holiday, they might get extra money instead. This payment is for the holidays they didn’t take. It’s a way to make sure the worker doesn’t lose out on the holiday time they were supposed to get.

Guidelines for Employers: Managing Holiday Requests During Notice Periods

Understanding Legal Obligations

First and foremost, it’s crucial for employers to have a thorough understanding of the legal framework governing employee holidays during notice periods in the UK. Familiarising oneself with the Working Time Regulations 1998 and any relevant case law is essential. Employers should ensure their policies are compliant with these regulations to avoid legal disputes.

Clear Company Policy

Having a clear and well-documented policy regarding holiday requests during notice periods is vital. This policy should be easily accessible to all employees and should clearly outline the process and criteria for approving or denying these requests. Consistency in policy application is key to maintaining fairness and transparency.

Fair and Reasonable Assessment

When assessing holiday requests, employers should adopt a fair and reasonable approach. Consider each request on its own merits and avoid blanket bans on holidays during notice periods. Factors such as the reason for the holiday, the employee’s role, and the potential impact on the business should be weighed carefully.

Effective Communication

Maintain open lines of communication with the employee making the request. If a holiday request must be denied, provide a clear and reasonable explanation. This helps in maintaining good relations and minimises the risk of grievances.

Considering Workload and Coverage

Employers should consider the current workload and the ability to cover the employee’s duties during their absence. If the absence of the employee could significantly disrupt business operations, this should be communicated to the employee as a valid reason for declining the request.

Alternative Solutions

If a holiday request cannot be accommodated, employers should consider offering alternative solutions. This could include suggesting different dates for the holiday or offering to accommodate part of the requested leave.

Documentation and Record Keeping

Keep detailed records of all holiday requests and the reasons for any approvals or denials. This documentation can be crucial in the event of a dispute or a legal challenge.

Training for Managers

Ensure that all managers and supervisors are trained on how to handle holiday requests, especially during notice periods. They should be aware of the legal implications and the company’s policy to ensure consistent and fair application.

Periodic Review of Policies

Regularly review and update the holiday policy to ensure it remains compliant with current laws and reflective of best practices. Solicit feedback from employees and managers to make improvements.

Promoting a Positive Workplace Culture

Finally, it’s important for employers to recognise the role that fair and considerate handling of holiday requests plays in promoting a positive workplace culture. Demonstrating respect and understanding for employees’ personal needs can lead to improved morale and employee relations.

By adhering to these guidelines, employers can manage holiday requests during notice periods effectively and legally, while also maintaining a positive and productive work environment.

The Role of HR in Managing Holiday Requests During Notice Periods

Developing and Communicating Clear Policies

A key responsibility of HR is to develop clear, comprehensive policies regarding holiday requests during notice periods. These policies should be in line with legal requirements and the company’s broader HR strategy. HR must also ensure that these policies are effectively communicated to all employees and management.

Training and Supporting Managers

HR should provide training and ongoing support to managers on how to handle holiday requests, especially during notice periods. This includes educating them about the legal aspects, company policies, and the importance of fairness and consistency in their decisions.

Facilitating Fair Decision Making

HR plays a crucial role in ensuring that holiday requests are handled fairly and consistently across the organisation. This may involve reviewing decisions made by line managers or providing guidance in more complex cases to prevent any form of discrimination or unfair treatment.

Resolving Conflicts and Disputes

When disputes arise, HR is typically the first point of contact. They should have procedures in place for resolving conflicts, whether through informal mediation or formal grievance procedures. HR must handle such disputes sensitively and impartially, aiming for resolutions that are fair to both the employee and the employer.

Record Keeping and Compliance

Maintaining accurate records of all holiday requests and decisions is an important aspect of HR’s role. This not only ensures compliance with legal requirements but also provides essential documentation in the event of any disputes or legal challenges.

Advising on Legal Changes and Best Practices

HR should stay informed about changes in employment law and best practices relating to holiday entitlement and notice periods. They should regularly review and update policies in response to such changes and advise management accordingly.

Promoting a Positive Work Environment

By managing holiday requests effectively, HR can contribute to a positive work environment. Fair and transparent processes can enhance employee trust and morale, which is particularly important during the often-sensitive notice period.

Supporting the Transition Process

During the notice period, HR should support both the employee who is leaving and the team they are leaving behind. This includes managing the holiday requests efficiently to minimise disruption and facilitating a smooth handover process.

In summary, HR’s role in managing holiday requests during notice periods is multifaceted, encompassing policy development, manager support, conflict resolution, and maintaining legal compliance. By fulfilling these responsibilities effectively, HR can help ensure a fair, transparent, and efficient process for all parties involved.

Understanding PILON in the Context of Holiday During Notice Period

When discussing the prospect of taking holidays during your notice period in the UK, it’s crucial to consider the concept of Payment in Lieu of Notice (PILON). PILON is a key term in employment contracts and HR practices, which may significantly impact your holiday entitlements during the notice period.

What is PILON?

PILON refers to an agreement where your employer can choose to pay you instead of requiring you to work your notice period. This payment includes what you would have earned during the notice period, including basic pay and, in some cases, benefits. The specifics depend on your employment contract or your employer’s policies.

How Does PILON Affect Holiday Entitlement?

  1. Immediate Cessation of Work: If your employer opts for PILON, your employment can end immediately, and you’ll receive a lump sum payment. This means you won’t physically work through your notice period.
  2. Holiday Entitlement: Since your employment ends immediately with PILON, your right to accrue holiday ceases at that point. However, you’re entitled to be paid for any accrued but untaken holiday up to your last day of employment.
  3. Contractual vs. Statutory Rights: It’s important to distinguish between your contractual and statutory rights. Some contracts offer more generous terms than the statutory minimum. Always check your contract to understand your specific entitlements under PILON.
  4. Impact on Taking Holiday: If you planned to take a holiday during your notice period, and your employer opts for PILON, this can complicate matters. Essentially, you won’t be able to ‘use’ your holiday in the traditional sense, since your employment ends immediately. However, you should be compensated for this untaken holiday.
  5. Tax Implications: The tax treatment of PILON can vary. Generally, it’s treated as earnings and subject to tax and National Insurance contributions, but this can depend on whether PILON is contractual or non-contractual.

Key Takeaway regarding PILON

Understanding PILON is essential when considering your holiday rights during a notice period. It’s a complex area blending contract terms with statutory rights. If PILON applies to you, it’s important to understand how it affects your holiday entitlement and pay. Always consult your employment contract and consider seeking advice from an HR professional or legal expert to navigate these issues effectively.

Common Disputes and Resolutions: Holiday Requests During Notice Periods

Dispute: Denial of Holiday Requests Without Valid Reason

One common dispute arises when an employer denies a holiday request during the notice period without a valid or clear reason. This can lead to feelings of unfair treatment and potential legal challenges.

Resolution: Employers should always provide a clear, documented reason for denying a holiday request. The reason must be in line with the company’s policy and legal requirements. If the decision is challenged, employers should be prepared to discuss and justify their reasoning.

Dispute: Inconsistency in Handling Requests

Another frequent issue occurs when employees perceive inconsistency in how holiday requests are handled, leading to claims of favouritism or discrimination.

Resolution: Employers must apply their holiday policies consistently to all employees. Documenting all decisions and the rationale behind them can help demonstrate fairness. Regular training for managers on these policies can also ensure uniform application.

Dispute: Short Notice Requests

Disputes may arise when employees make holiday requests at short notice during their notice period, leaving employers with inadequate time to arrange cover.

Resolution: Employers should clearly communicate the required notice period for holiday requests in their policy. In situations where short notice is unavoidable, a flexible approach and open dialogue can often lead to a mutually agreeable solution.

Dispute: Refusal to Pay for Accrued Holiday

Employees sometimes face disputes when employers refuse to pay for accrued but untaken holiday days after their employment ends.

Resolution: It’s a legal requirement in the UK to pay employees for any accrued but untaken holiday. Employers must ensure they correctly calculate and provide this payment to avoid legal repercussions.

Dispute: Misunderstanding of Legal Rights

Misunderstandings about the legal rights of employees regarding holidays during notice periods can lead to disputes.

Resolution: Both employers and employees should be well-informed about their legal rights and obligations. Providing clear, accessible information and guidance can help avoid misunderstandings.

Dispute: Overlapping Holiday and Notice Periods

Confusion and conflict can arise when an employee’s holiday overlaps with the start or end of their notice period.

Resolution: Employers should address this in their policy, clarifying how such situations are handled. Open communication and flexibility can help find a satisfactory resolution for both parties.

Dispute: Impact on Handover Processes

Disputes may occur if an employee’s holiday during their notice period affects the handover of their duties.

Resolution: Employers should plan for effective handover processes that accommodate potential absences. This may involve temporary redistribution of duties or earlier start of handover procedures.

By anticipating these common disputes and implementing clear resolutions, employers can manage holiday requests during notice periods more effectively, reducing potential conflicts and maintaining a harmonious workplace.


In conclusion, the UK rules around employees taking holiday during their notice period are designed to protect both employees and employers. It is important for employees to understand their rights and for employers to follow the correct procedures when requiring employees to take holiday during their notice period. By doing so, both parties can ensure that the process is smooth and fair for all concerned.

Articles written by and for SkyHR for our blog and other sections of our main website,, by the central SkyHR team