My husband works in a job where there has to be someone there at all times, even over Christmas/holidays/weekends etc. The holiday year runs from January-December and it turns out that one of his department hasn't taken their leave yet- so they have a month to use up (not her fault apparently- she's tried to ask for holiday forms for a few weeks, but still hasn't been given one). So she will be booking pretty much all of December off- am I right in thinking that they can't prevent her from taking this holiday? And is it the employer's duty to ensure that if they don't want this to happen then they should have monitered the holidays all year and made her take some before now?
And, running on from this (as if this is correct, it seems that my husband could easily end up working over Christmas and New Year)- his contract says that he doesn't work on the 8 public holidays (so including Christmas day). He has never worked on Christmas Day in the last 3 years, but sometimes works other holidays, for which he gets a day in lieu. If he is put down to work on Christmas Day can he refuse to do it? He doesn't get any overtime for this (although he'll get a day in lieu ). I think his contract was probably a mistake as they are usually expected to work on holidays, but never having worked on Christmas day before, he doesn't know where he stands in terms of this.
An employer usually has the right to approve or reject any holiday requests, however there is an absolutely minimum amount of holiday that an employee must take each year - 4 weeks - so if this woman hasn't taken enough they'll have to allow it. Whether or not this woman can either elect to carry the rest over to next year, or can be made to do so, depends entirely on the rules the employer has in place.
In terms of your husband, if his contract specifically says that he doesn't work bank holidays, including Christmas, it's difficult to see how they could force him to do so. Presumably when he works other public holidays, as he is not required to do so it's a case of them asking him and him agreeing? In which case the same ought to apply here.