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Help! - taking annual leave before maternity leave

(10 Posts)
CookieMonster1 Mon 17-Aug-09 18:02:05


What's a reasonable position for an employer to take on permitting you to use your annual leave before your maternity leave starts?

My leave year runs Jan to Dec. I informed my employer in writing that I was pregnant in April and that I would like to take my full annual leave allocation for 2009 before my maternity leave starts. I confirmed this again several times over the last 4 months and agreed back in June with our HR manager that I would like my maternity leave to start on 20th Sept, with 2 weeks annual leave taken directly before this date and that I would use the remaining leave throughout August to reduce the number of days I work each week down to 2 or 3 days/week. No concerns were ever raised about this.

However, with a month left to go before my maternity leave starts, and no plans made by my employer to pass my tasks on to someone in an organised manner, my employer is now in full panic mode and has now decided they will only permit me to take 2 days annual leave in the next 3 weeks, rather than the 10 days I had planned and they want me to carry over the remaining leave and tag it on at the end of my maternity leave. I really don't want to do this and feel they have had good notice of my wish to take my outstanding leave at the start of my maternity leave.

I'm pretty unhappy they are proposing a fairly dramatic change at such a late stage and with such short notice purely because my manager has totally failed to plan for my maternity leave. I think I have given them more than reasonable notice, and if they had indicated before now that they were unhappy to "wind down" my hours in this way before I would have elected to start my maternity leave 2 weeks earlier, as I knew I would struggle to work full weeks late in my pregnancy.

I'm going to be totally shattered working 13 of the next 15 working days rather than 5 of the next 15 working days as planned and feel I made reasonable plans to stagger my leave to avoid me getting too tired while still allowing me to keep things ticking over for as long as possible. I have been very flexible about which days I take off to allow me to meet commitments in my diary and urgent priorities so I have definitely done my best to be reasonable. But I know that the bottom line is that employers are entitled to refuse leave in line with business needs.

So is it reasonable for them to expect me to defer my holiday for 2009 to 2010 or would it be reasonable for me to object to this? If I agree to their request, that would see me only taking 18 days annual leave in 2009, which I think is below the statutory minimum so I am not even sure they can legally refuse me leave at this point in time.

Any ideas anyone?

kaphc Mon 17-Aug-09 22:06:56

Sounds like your employer really is in full on panic mode! Did you submit holiday requests to your line manager in accordance with company policy? If so, I think that puts you in a strong position, but then I know nothing about the ins and outs of employment law!

I think you need to seek proper advice on this one from an independent source. I've just been on the website and interestingly it says:

"Your employer can refuse permission for your holiday as long as they give you notice which is at least as long as the holiday requested (so to refuse a request for a week's leave, they would have to tell you a week in advance)."

The link to the website is:

Either that or you need to have a chat with your HR Manager (and hope they are impartial!) or your union, if applicable.

Whatever happens, I hope you can stick to your plans and find a positive solution!

lilacpink Mon 17-Aug-09 22:28:20

If you go on maternity leave earlier, can you use the leave at the end instead? Or will it be lost? If you see a doc and say you aren't able to work e.g.backache) they may push you to early mat leave, but you don't want to loose your leave.

As per last post - anyone in HR you can talk to?

MrsGladpuss Mon 17-Aug-09 22:50:24

My company's annual leave policy is that employees must give 4 weeks notice of the first date of requested leave and have the right to reject the request if there is a valid business reason. They also have a policy about rotaring (because we operate a 5 day full time working week worked across 6 days) which stipulates employees must be given notice of working hours, again a full 4 weeks.

As a manager operating within that framework I would not ask someone to change annual leave plans without giving the 4 weeks notice... and without a really, really good reason. And failure to plan is not one.

Is it your line manager who is making this decision? Perhaps they haven't thought through the consequences. If you go off sick with exhaustion, or high blood pressure after a certain number of weeks (I forget how many) your maternity leave will automatically kick in without warning. Stress can also bring on labour so you could end up with your maternity leave starting early without any notice at all!

Go and check your annual leave and maternity policies. If they are like my company's then I would simply calmly refuse to change your pre-approved leave and if your manager is arsey about it, ask them to put their request to you in writing (this usually stops most people asking staff to do things they shouldn't).

I would speak to your line manager in the first instance and explain the possible consequences.

I would also have a word with the HR manager to explain your position. Maybe a quiet word in their ear could sort it all out.

Whatever you do get everything in writing.

Good luck. For what it's worth I have been the manager declining annual leave requests (because the business really couldn't accommodate at such short notice) and the member of staff working up until 39 weeks before a week's annual leave... and desparately hoping the baby wouldn't be early and my annual leave lost.

CookieMonster1 Tue 18-Aug-09 09:33:31

Thanks everyone. I have complied with company policy on submitting leave requests. It is my line manager making the decision and unfortunately my HR dept seem to be supporting him on this so there's little hope of talking either of them around.

I agreed to confirm each week in August which days of the following week I would take off - to be flexible and to accommodate business needs that crop up as best as I could. I have tried to take Tues/Thurs most weeks as this means I effectively work every other day so I can keep up and continue to perform effectively. Unfortunately finalising which days I will take the week before I take them means that I don't get the individual days formally signed off too long in advance though. Which is now turning out to be a problem. But I was very clear that I wanted to use up all my leave before my maternity leave started and I have evidence of this (along with no objections from work before now).

I really do feel that forcing me to work like this is going to adversely affect my health and may result in me having to take sick leave which might trigger my maternity leave starting early - and this is exactly the situation I wanted to avoid by taking annual leave instead.

Ah well...I think I am going to try and stick to my guns and see what they say.

RibenaBerry Tue 18-Aug-09 10:51:07

I would stick to your guns, point out that you submitted your requests properly and that the only reason you don't have individual days agreed is because you agreed to be flexible.

If they're still a pain, you could point out that you are entitled to holiday under the Working Time Regulations and that their stance is effectively prohibiting you from taking that holiday (The WTR doesn't recognise carry over or paying out holiday, to avoid loopholes).

You don't mention your due date, but bear in mind that sickness only triggers your leave in the last four weeks before you are due. Before that, you can be off sick without any such implications. Therefore, if your doctor feels he needs to sign you off, you would be entitled to normal sick pay.

CookieMonster1 Tue 18-Aug-09 11:03:33

Thanks Ribenaberry.

My EDD is 2 Oct which is a Friday and I was told maternity leave has to start on the Sunday of the week containing my EDD which is the 27 Sep.

So does that mean if I am sick in the 4 weeks leading up to that sunday (30th Aug onwards) my maternity leave would automatically be triggered? Or is it 4 weeks from my actual EDD, so from the 4th Sept onwards?

RibenaBerry Tue 18-Aug-09 13:04:05

Ooh goodness, I'd have to go back to the actual legislation to check those technical bits I'm afraid. Everything used to be run on EWC (expected week of childbirth), but a lot more is now done on due date. I don't think you have to start leave on a Sunday any more either. I'll try and answer tonight.

On the sickness, yes, if you're off in the four weeks before you're due with a pregnancy related illness, your employer can trigger your maternity leave. Will check whether it's due date or week.

twinklytoes Tue 18-Aug-09 22:45:55

to help I triggered maternity sick pay on sept 15th (wk 36), I was due Oct 14th. baby actually arrived sept 14th so mat leave started the day after anyway. my 39 wks finished on the 15th june so think that the date is more important rather than calendar months. might be wrong though.

mat leave ceased starting on the sunday before over a year ago (I think, am sure this only affected my first baby in 2003 but its all fuzzy and could have actually just been the last baby born last year and was part of the rules that affected all babies born oct 2008 and after). mat leave now starts at the latest the day after your due date or the day after delivery if you deliver earlier.

RibenaBerry Wed 19-Aug-09 18:59:25

Right, I've checked. It's four weeks prior to the EWC (Expected week of childbirth - i.e. the Sunday) for sickness triggering maternity leave.

Maternity leave can start any day of the week. The Sunday to Sunday stuff changed in 2007.

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