The coronavirus crisis is also giving rise to all kinds of questions relating to taking holiday. Can an employee withdraw his or her request for leave? As an employer, can you cancel a request for leave?


Can an employee withdraw a request for leave?

Can an employee ask to withdraw a planned holiday and take this later in the year? The starting point for leave is that it is determined based on the employee’s wishes. An employee is naturally allowed to ask his or her employer to withdraw a planned holiday. However, it is up to the employer to decide whether this request is granted. An employer is not obliged to agree to it. If an employer has a lot of work at that particular time, agreeing to withdraw the allocated leave will present few problems. However, the decision is a matter for the employer.


It is worth bearing in mind that withdrawing leave may result in too few staff being available later in the year, as everyone then takes their holiday at the same time.


Can an employer cancel a request for leave?

Provided that he or she has compelling reasons for doing so (high volume of work, colleagues absent due to illness, etc.), an employer can cancel the leave, following consultation with the employee. However, in this situation the employer has to compensate the employee for any losses he or she suffers as a result of the timing of his or her holiday changing. These may include cancellation costs, for example.


An employer must not be too hasty in cancelling a request for leave. He or she must first see if there are any other ways to deal with the sudden increase in the workload, such as engaging on-call workers.


If, following the cancellation of the request for leave, the employee has no further opportunity to take any outstanding statutory holiday days for 2019 before 1 July 2020, this statutory holiday does not lapse. The employee must be given the opportunity to take this holiday at another time.



As indicated above, the time when holiday is taken is guided by the employee. An employer cannot oblige an employee to take leave. Of course, an employer can ask an employee to do so, but the employee does not have to agree to this.


Please note:

The legislation governing holidays does not apply to time in lieu (‘ADV’ hours). It is therefore important to check what has been agreed in writing with regard to ‘ADV’ hours. It may have been stipulated in writing that the employer is entitled to schedule when ‘ADV’ hours are taken.