A couple of months ago I requested 5 days annual leave, and gave my employer the dates. The employer did not acknowledge the request, but sent an automated e-mail a week before the leave was due to start, telling me that the request had been declined. It’s not the first time it has happened, and my colleagues say that this is the normal practice in this workplace. Is it a requirement for the employer to give reasonable notice when declining leave, and if so, what is the minimum period it must give? I have now requested two weeks leave in July (and I can be flexible on the dates), plus the week that was declined in May, and again it has failed to acknowledge the request, or give any indication when I can expect a response. If the company continues this pattern of behaviour I will clearly be forced into taking my annual leave entitlement at a time of the company’s choosing, which has previously not been in whole weeks, but rather random days dictated by the company.

  • I don't know if its legal, but I do know that you should seriously consider finding a better employer.
    – phoog
    Jun 3, 2017 at 15:52
  • I'd say that the legality is not really of much importance in practice. Good choices are finding a better employer, or alternatively tell your manager that your request is not a request but a notification when you will go on holiday, and you go on that holiday. If your manager doesn't agree then you are back to finding a better employer.
    – gnasher729
    Jun 3, 2017 at 19:03

1 Answer 1


It is legal for a U.K. employer to refuse leave and they must do so the same period before the leave as the amount of the leave. A week for your 5 days leave complies.

They must, however, allow you to take your annual leave within the year. They can dictate when.

See https://www.gov.uk/holiday-entitlement-rights/booking-time-off-

  • While this is legal, it is counter productive for the company to the extreme. Many holidays need booking a long time ahead. My manager better tell me that I have holidays or not, or I will be asking him every single day.
    – gnasher729
    Jun 4, 2017 at 7:42
  • @gnasher729 and that would be a great answer on workplace.se but this site is about the law
    – Dale M
    Jun 4, 2017 at 11:41
  • The document you cite says that (in the absence of a contract) they need to give 10 days notice for 5 days leave. Nov 13, 2018 at 23:46

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