Advanced search

Grasp the next rung of the career ladder

Find jobs that fit your skills and your home life with Mumsnet jobs

See all jobs »

employment law experts? I need you,,, DH's employer saying that if you take holiday you will need to get someone to cover for your absence or you can't take it...

(21 Posts)
Kbear Mon 03-Aug-09 19:16:06

Employer trying to change terms and conditions of employment.

Requesting that holiday absences are covered by self-cover, ie if you want to go on holiday you have to personally ask members of the other shifts to come in a cover your absence. If you can't find anyone willing to cover your absence you can't take your holiday.

This seems, to me, to be illegal and ridiculous, but is there a precedent for this somewhere else, can they do this?

Any help gratefully received.

Kbear Mon 03-Aug-09 21:27:43


CantThinkofFunnyName Mon 03-Aug-09 21:34:31

Not an expert, but did have control of HR function of a company for a few years. I believe this to be illegal. For any employer to try to change T&C of employment, the employee needs to agree/sign the new T&Cs. And the employee certainly doesn't need to and their previous T&C would remain - as I understand it.

Would be interested to hear any fully fledged emp lawyer response though...

Kbear Mon 03-Aug-09 21:57:51

thanks for your reply - I've been on the net all evening looking at ACAS and other websites for help. There are helplines I will ring tomorrow. This is a multi-national employer, I can't believe they are treating their employees this way. Basically, we can't book a holiday unless DH gets someone to promise to cover for him. If that person changes their mind, leaves or is sick DH won't be allowed to take the holiday time.

Kbear Mon 03-Aug-09 21:58:40

... if this goes ahead, I should have said. At the moment, this is a threatened course of action to stop overtime.

CantThinkofFunnyName Mon 03-Aug-09 22:00:43

Outrageous quite frankly - no wonder you are investigating this heavily. Good luck!

HecatesTwopenceworth Mon 03-Aug-09 22:01:27

I can't see how it can be the employees responsibility to find their own holiday cover. hmm

You need flowerybeanbag. She is an employment law guru! grin

Kbear Mon 03-Aug-09 22:08:27

Cheers for that. I will look out for her!

I am a woman on a mission to give DH the pages in writing that prove this is illegal. What I have found so far is that everyone is entitled to 5.6 weeks holiday a year (raised on 1 April 2009 from 4.8). I used to work for one of the best employment lawyers in the country until March which is a bit annoying as I would have asked someone at work.

Thanks for your replies.

HecatesTwopenceworth Mon 03-Aug-09 22:13:58

could you not phone them anyway?

Kbear Mon 03-Aug-09 22:16:50

I got made redundant along with all my contacts in the employment department, along with 3/4 of the secretaries and half the lawyers!! so not really any one there that I call in a favour with now.

ilovemydogandmrobama Mon 03-Aug-09 22:17:34

Your contract (of employment) is with your employer and not with other employees. So, your holiday entitlement is leave with pay and is a contractual obligation.

Some companies will limit holiday entitlement to specific times, such as a shut down in August and in December and an employee cannot decide when to take annual leave/holiday.

So, you need to have a look at your actual contract of employment when you started, and any subsequent changes to terms and conditions (i.e. agreements by trade union)

But holiday entitlement is a contractual agreement without conditions, therefore unreasonable for them to suggest that you have to jump through hoops. Similarly, if you are sick, you wouldn't be expected to find cover for your job, would you?

How as this communicated? Verbally or by letter?

As it's a multi national company, assume there's a rational H/R person who could be approached?

flowerybeanbag Mon 03-Aug-09 22:19:18

Are they saying that if your DH wants to take two weeks off in September, it's up to him to find someone to cover, and if he can't find anyone he loses the holiday altogether. Or are they saying that if he wants to take two weeks off in September but can't find anyone to cover he can't take it on those dates.

Are they actually saying that employees can only have as much holiday as they can find cover for, and if they can only find cover for one week in a year that's all they get?

To change terms and conditions does require consent, or at least some hoops to be jumped through if consent is withheld. However changing arrangements for booking holiday and putting more of the onus on the employee to sort out the cover isn't necessarily quite as drastic as forcing a change in terms and conditions. It depends on what they are saying happens if the person in question can't get cover for the dates they want, and partly on what the exact contractual arrangements with regard to holiday and booking holiday are at the moment.

What does your DH's contract or handbook say at the moment about holiday booking, getting consent for holidays, that kind of thing?

As long as he actually gets to take his holiday entitlement, his employer can dictate exactly when all of it is taken if they choose, there is no legal entitlement for employees to have any say at all about when holiday is taken. So as long as no one is trying to reduce holiday entitlement altogether, whether this new arrangement is a change to his terms and conditions depends on what his terms and conditions say at the moment about taking holiday.

Apart from anything else, this sounds like a completely stupid arrangement anyway, and destined to be a huge logistical disaster!

Kbear Mon 03-Aug-09 22:36:40

THANKS so much for your replies, I really appreciate your help with this. I'm out of my depth here.

All this is being drip-fed through supervisors at work at the moment to gauge feedback. Nothing much in writing directly to the operators on the plant.

They want to change the shift pattern to cut out overtime, they haven't produced the changes yet but there are meetings set up with supervisors starting next week.

All we know is that one idea put forward but their new manager is that they will get a rostered 14 days off after a certain amount of weeks of the shift pattern. We're not sure if this will be classed as holiday or not. Any holiday taken on top of those rostered days off will need to be covered by a colleague (who won't be paid extra to cover). This sounds like madness to me. To my mind the days off are to comply with the working time regulations not to substitute as holiday.

Incidentally they will pay sick pay - so everyone will just take sick time instead of holiday time won't they?

My head is spinning with this, DH is currently on leave so getting this second hand from phone calls from colleagues.

I will come back to this thread over the next few days with FACTS as I get them so if you wouldn't mind giving me any advice later one I would be grateful.

This new manager is certainly knows how to alienate a work force.

nymphadora Mon 03-Aug-09 22:41:18

Where did you see regulations on change of holiday amounts? May have to use that one!

bosch Mon 03-Aug-09 22:45:04

My employer (a local council) just sacked everybody and gave them a new contract with the new terms and conditions that they wanted (different pay primarily). The union agreed that this was legal and there was nothing we could do about it. As long as we had 3 months notice (the max required for any one member of staff).

My employer also threatened to link increments (a bit like bonuses in private sector!) to sick leave. If you'd had two weeks off sick (even with doctors note) you'd not get an increment that year (if you're due one, typically worth a couple of hundred pounds). Union did kick up a stink about this, but never said it was illegal and when I asked MN a few people said that this was common practice in private sector.

Kbear Mon 03-Aug-09 22:46:39


ilovemydogandmrobama Mon 03-Aug-09 22:54:40

It depends on a number of factors. The roster pattern may not be in breach of the Working Time Directive as it is an average over a number of weeks.

The other factor is any trade union/health and safety agreements. Certain industries have maximum working periods, for instance, no more than 72 hours consecutively without a day off, and no more than 12 hours in any one shift.

Any changes can really be upsetting, but ask for the matrix before dismissing them. Also keep in mind that some people prefer to have their work intensively and the same for their free time. DP has 5 consecutive days off at one stage in his shift pattern, so if he takes 2 days annual leave, it can mean two weeks off! The downside being that he has some very unsociable shift patterns leading up to it.

Kbear Mon 03-Aug-09 23:02:27

he already does a shift pattern of days and nights then six days off before his next set of nights and booking a few shifts often does often lead to a long period off work which is great but the way they are approaching this new system, putting the onus on the employee to get someone to cover your absence on holiday is surely not workable and I'd love to know which companies make this work successfully.

There are always the workers and the shirkers at any firm and DH reckons people will just phone in sick when they want their holiday time so they don't have bother covering their absence.

We do need something definite in writing but this manager is asking shift operatives to come up with a shift pattern that will elimate the need for overtime. Surely that is his/HR's job? DH is on the net looking for examples of shift patterns that will work in their line of work but he's not an expert and everything he's put forward so far has been rejected.

Loshad Mon 03-Aug-09 23:08:08

Totally different line of work but my DH (NHS hospital doctor) has to find someone to cover him before he can take either holiday or study leave - all the consultants have to. He has no idea what would happen if all your colleagues disliked you so much they wouldn't cover for you (basically when you cover for someone else you do their job as well as your own so can be very busy and have some very long days)

Kbear Mon 03-Aug-09 23:12:53

covering a colleague at DH's place would mean working extra days on top of their own shift. Not sure how legal this is, if a person works their maximum number of shifts/hours in a week then has to cover a fortnight's leave for someone else when they should be off themselves.

Also, DH's job is potentially very dangerous, explosively so. Tired employees working extra shifts is probably not particularly safe and probably breaks some health and safety regulations too.

Kbear Tue 04-Aug-09 16:38:11

i called ACAS today - as we thought they said that an employer can specify when you have to take your holiday but cannot obstruct your ability to take your holiday, ie cannot add restrictions like making sure you get someone to cover.

DH is putting together an email to his supervisor today who will be attending a meeting with management on Thursday.

I think they are bandying about this ridiculous scenario to make anything that is finally agreed seem like a good idea.

We will wait and see.

Thanks for your help yesterday everyone.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now