Are you on schedule with your holiday planning?
Summer is coming soon, and many have already begun to look forward to the holidays. Here is an overview of the most important rules in the Holiday Act that employers should be aware of in order for this summer's holiday planning to go smoothly:
1 How much holiday?
Section 5 of the Holidays Act stipulates that all employees shall have 25 working days' holiday each year. The concept of working day includes all days except Sunday and public holidays - that is, also Saturday. The requirement under the law is that the employees must have a holiday for four weeks and one day a year. Employees over the age of 60 must also be given extra leave for six working days.
However, many employees are covered by a collective agreement that gives the right to five weeks' holiday or have an individual employment contract that gives the right to more holiday than what follows from the law. It is therefore important to be aware of how much vacation time the individual employee can and must take each year.
2 The point in time for holiday
In principle, the employer can - by virtue of the right to manage - decide when the employees get a holiday. This means that the employer can plan the holiday so that it causes the least possible disruption to the business. If, for example, you know that July is a hectic period, the employer may decide that the employees must take holidays at other times of the year.
However, the Holiday Act contains certain provisions that must be followed when determining the time for holidays. Firstly, the employee is entitled to take a main holiday of 18 working days (three weeks) in the period between 1 June and 30 September, cf. the Holidays Act § 7. However, there is nothing in the way of voluntarily agreeing that the main holiday shall be taken outside this period if it suits both employer and employee. Secondly, employees over the age of sixty can decide for themselves when they want to wind up their extra holiday week, unless otherwise follows from a collective agreement or individual agreement.
3 The employer's duty to discuss
Even if the employer has the final word regarding the point in time of the holiday, the Holidays Act § 6 no. 1 imposes an obligation to discuss the determination of holiday time and the establishment of holiday lists. Discussion can be done with the individual employee, or one can conduct a discussion with employee representatives on behalf of a group of employees. The discussion means that the employee will have the opportunity to make his or her wishes for a holiday, but not necessarily that the person in question will have the wishes fulfilled.
The discussion must take place "well in advance" before the holiday. What is meant by "well in advance", the law does not give a clear answer to. However, the discussion should take place so early that the employer actually has the opportunity to take the employee's wishes into account in the holiday planning. In contrast to the duty to notify (see below), the dialogue should at least begin more than two months before the holiday begins.
4 Notification to employees
According to the Holidays Act § 6 no. 2, employees may demand to be notified of the holiday determination as early as possible or no later than two months before the holiday begins. The duty to notify is conditional on the employee - either himself or through employee representatives - explicitly demanding to be notified. If the employee has not requested it, the employer can provide information about the holiday time later. For larger companies, however, it may be a good idea to give the employees joint notification well in advance of the holiday period, to avoid many individual inquiries and to ensure that everyone receives sufficient information.
The two-month deadline does not apply if there are "special reasons" that prevent the employer from providing such information. This is primarily aimed at operational conditions, and not conditions that apply to the individual employee.
5 Change of determined holiday
After the holiday point in time has been set and the employees informed, unforeseen situations may arise that make it desirable to change the holiday point in time. The Holidays Act § 6 no. 3 gives the employer a certain right to change the stipulated holiday if it is necessary due to unforeseen events that will create significant operational problems, and no substitute can be obtained.
The question of change must be discussed with the employee in advance. "Significant operational problems" primarily include more extraordinary situations, so that the threshold for changing a planned holiday without the employee's consent is high. However, there is nothing to prevent the employer and employee from voluntarily agreeing that the holiday should be changed from what was originally stipulated.
If the employer unilaterally decides to reschedule the holiday, the employer is obliged to cover additional expenses resulting from the reorganization. The liability for compensation includes additional expenses for both the employee him/herself and his/her immediate family. Practical examples of such expenses are often cancellation fees, rental expenses for cabins and costs for hotel rooms.
And speaking of holidays, we wish you all good and sunny days when the time comes!