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Is there a regulation on how much in advance an employee should book annual leave?

  • 15-03-2023 12:29pm
    Registered Users Posts: 4

    Hi, I am based in Dublin and work for an international company. My manager and most of my team is based in another EU country.

    We were recently asked to book all our holidays by the end of March. Some of the people find this highly inconvenient, and the reasons we were given don't really make too much sense. I am not even sure if this is against the law.

    I just wonder if there is any regulation on this matter in Ireland, or the employers can make their own rules? Thanks.




  • Registered Users Posts: 1,313 ✭✭✭CPTM

    Is it ALL your holidays, or just all holidays you've carried over from last year? I've heard of internal policies that require all vacation days carried over from the previous year to be booked before the end of March.

    Yes it would be highly unusual for them to ask you to reserve your entire annual leave by a date so early in the year.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,359 ✭✭✭✭Supercell

    We book our summer and easter holidays in advance as everyone wants the same time off and the show must go on, only fair way to do it. Then around Halloween we do the Christmas ones, any remaining is done whenever needed.

    Have a weather station?, why not join the Ireland Weather Network -

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,313 ✭✭✭CPTM

    I just wonder if there's a misinterpretation there. I would tell my team to book all their holidays in the system before the end of March for example. But by that I don't mean use up all their days. I mean book any/all their holidays that they have planned in their heads already, so we know where we are.

  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators Posts: 10,171 Mod ✭✭✭✭Jim2007

    Not that I know of and as practical all my working life was spent working in mainland European, for me it would be normal practice. That does not mean that you can't change, cancel them later or take unexpected leave, it is just for planning purposes and to respect the preference of working parents and care givers. Employers will usually approve the holidays and cover of parents and care givers first and then approve the holidays of everyone else that can be accommodated and reject the others, asking them to reschedule.

  • Posts: 1,539 ✭✭✭ [Deleted User]

    Giving parents preferential treatment over annual leave dates due to having children would be discriminatory on the grounds of family status.

    Any employer who has this practice is leaving themselves wide open to a claim being brought against them to the WRC.

    Employers cannot discriminate against child free employees because they DON'T have children / caring responsibilities.

    Annual Leave should be approved on first come / first served basis.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 4 juliaM

    It is all the holidays for the current year. We are not allowed to carry over any from last year.

    To be clear, we are not requested to use them before the end of March. We are requested to book them/put into the system.

    This request just came out couple of days ago and is only documented on our internal web site. We questioned if this replaces the policy that is also documented internally (and is also mentioned in my contract) that states we need to give at least eight weeks notice for holidays longer than two weeks. No answer to that yet.

    I just wonder if there is legal ground to refuse this request.

  • Registered Users Posts: 25,849 ✭✭✭✭Mrs OBumble

    If you refuse, then they may just decide to allocate leave days to you.

    Which they certainly can do, especially if you have already been given the chance to express preferences but declined.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4 juliaM

    Can they do that? That's not what my contract states.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,232 ✭✭✭TooTired123

    What does your contract say about A/L? In Ireland if you are working full time you are entitled to 4 weeks annual leave plus the 9 public holidays. (I think there’s 10 this year).

    But ultimately your employer can say when you take those weeks.

    For example you could be working for a company that actually closes for a set two weeks in the summer, 4 days from Easter Tuesday till the following Monday , 27 to 31 December. That would leave you with only 2 floating days to play around with.

    Unless your contract states otherwise then your employer isn’t being unreasonable asking you to suggest in March what your annual leave dates are between now and next April.

    Editing here:

    Ive reread the thread and I see that your contract states a notice period for annual leave.

    Under the Terms and Conditions Act any change to your contract needs to be in writing with two weeks notice. Of course you can object to any change to your contract but the company are normally inclined to go ahead anyway.

    If they do go ahead even if you object then you could make a complaint to WRC. But do you want to be bothered with that?

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,725 ✭✭✭Wanderer2010

    Being a parent shouldnt matter a jot for holidays. All employees, whatever their status is, are entitled to annual leave. This attitude of "oh you are single, you can take holidays whenever you like" is insidious and just plain discrimination.

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  • Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators Posts: 10,171 Mod ✭✭✭✭Jim2007

    I'm not arguing one way or the other, I'm just telling you how it panned out.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,232 ✭✭✭TooTired123

    As far as I’m concerned with holidays it’s first up best dressed.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,730 ✭✭✭irelandrover

    Not in my experience. People with school going children try to book during the school holidays. Generally no one else wants that time as it's so expensive. Generally if anyone else applied for holidays in that time they got it as they had very good reasons.

    My company also asks us to put our main holidays in the calender by the end of March. But it's changeable later, its really just to make sure there is cover at all times.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,725 ✭✭✭Wanderer2010

    Yeah its amazing how many people think that because they can reproduce that their employer must accomodate their needs and set their work around school holidays and parent teacher meetings etc.

  • Registered Users Posts: 25,849 ✭✭✭✭Mrs OBumble

    I'm pretty sure that there's a legal obligation on employers to consider their employees family circumstances. IMHO that should include not just children but also elderly parents and relatives, companion animals, and social / ethnic community obligations

    However consider is the word. It's not an absolute obligation to give breeders what they want and make everyone else work around them. In some workplaces, people have to make compromises. In which case, everyone should have to make some - but ideally as few as possib.e.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,150 ✭✭✭Joe1919

    20.—(1) The times at which annual leave is granted to an employee shall be determined by his or her employer having regard to work requirements and subject—

    (a) to the employer taking into account—

    (i) the need for the employee to reconcile work and any family responsibilities,

    Family responsibilities does matter as far as I can see.

  • Posts: 1,539 ✭✭✭ [Deleted User]

    There is no rule against them taking family responsibilities into account.

    They just can't discriminate against another employee because of them.

  • Registered Users Posts: 25,117 ✭✭✭✭Strumms


    in a job I had I used to like getting away around either the May or June bank holidays, you’d only use 4 days leave as opposed to 5 when taking a week off. One parent in particular was unimpressed by my preferred schedule to the point he went to management to try and wrangle a situation whereby parents were prioritised…. For certain days.

    Manglement in fairness sent him packing, he’d already been given other preferences relating to shifts so it was a bit of a pîss take.

    at the end of the day, parents have the exact same opportunities as every else…. If they are not as quick to respond and avail…. Sorry, tough.

  • Registered Users Posts: 26,342 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus

    If employers want to employ parents then, yeah, they need to make the employment attractive to parents. This isn't a legal requirement; just common sense. A decision to disregard the concerns of parents in the way you organise the employment is a decision to focus your hiring efforts on non-parents only. That limits the pool of prospective employees, and you would need to have a pretty good business case to support such a decision.

    Post edited by Peregrinus on

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,725 ✭✭✭Wanderer2010

    Employers are only intetested in your skills. They pay you for your time and skills and they couldnt care less about what you do outside of work, or how many kids you need to pick up from school.

    Employment laws are there for everyone not just for people with children. Yes, some employers may bend the allocation of holidays a bit but i would certainly be furious if i gave a few months notice for a week off only to be told Stella in admin needs to take her little son off to Lapland.

    Its very prevelant in workplaces where women think the entire organisation should be moulded to their needs and their priorities. Its bang out of order in my view.

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  • Posts: 1,539 ✭✭✭ [Deleted User]

    Okay, Easter is coming up, so this situation will arise in a lot of workplaces:

    Email received 10:30am: "Mary has applied for Annual Leave x 8 Days from Monday 3 April 2023 to Friday 14 April 2003 inclusive. For your approval."

    Email received 10:33am: "Anna has applied for Annual Leave x 8 Days from Monday 3 April 2023 to Friday 14 April 2023 inclusive. For your approval."

    Mary is childfree. Anna has school age kids.

    Whose request would you approve? What other factors would you consider?

  • Registered Users Posts: 25,849 ✭✭✭✭Mrs OBumble

    The amount of extra sick leave that parents of young children take would make a business case stack up very easily. Except that doing so is illegal.

  • Registered Users Posts: 317 ✭✭ThreeGreens

    You should ask your boss what happens if you subsequently want to change your holidays?

    I suspect you will be allowed change, provided it doesn't cause a scheduling issue.

    So you're no worse off than if you didn't select holidays now, and simply applied later.

    I think they are just trying to avoid a situation where too many people look for holidays later and get denied because someone else is already off that week, and the employee fees it's unfair because they were denied at the last minute with little time to pick new dates. But asking for you to choose now, they at least bring the date clashes to light now when people have time to consider their options. But if you don't choose now, or just pick random dates now and change later, you are in the same boat. You might get the dates you want or you might not, but you won't know until later in the year (when you ask for the dates).

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,313 ✭✭✭CPTM

    I'd approve Mary's but first I would ask her if they're movable. If not, sorry Anna but you need to get your request in earlier. You've had the school holiday calendar for a while now. If you employ any sort of system other than first come first serve, you end up having to assess some very grey scenarios. The whataboutery would be endless. What if someone has worked harder than someone else? What if Anna just had a week off with the kids outside of school time? What if Mary's parents are sick, or sort of sick. Or they were sick but now they're better? Staff would go mad. Any experienced manager knows that something not nice but fair is better than something unknown or subjective.

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,685 ✭✭✭✭wonski

    In Ireland you can legally tell someone when their holiday is.

    Most companies however don't excercise that right, which is the right thing to do.

    Many companies - production plants in particular - will be closed for two weeks of summer and there is nothing the employee can do about it.

    Similarly the employer can just dictate when you take holidays, but most will not do it and will accommodate your needs, but there is nothing stopping them from telling you when to take them.

  • Registered Users Posts: 896 ✭✭✭Get Real

    This thread has reminded me of a friend a while ago and I understand that legally, a company can tell you when you're taking leave.

    However, can a company dictate when you can *apply* for leave. Say a factory operating 365 days with various staff and shifts.

    The company states that annual leave must be applied for at a minimum 1 month in advance. And cannot be applied for more than 6 months in advance.

    Allegedly to make things smoother for HR so staffing levels can be predicted and planned in advance. And also leave not given too far in advance in case unforseen situations down the line where extra staff and production is necessary?

    For example, if I want to take next Friday off, even though there's nobody else on leave, I can't do so because I didn't apply 1 month in advance as per their policy? Likewise, I have a wedding to attend in November but can't apply for leave yet as it's beyond 6 months in advance and my employer can't be sure of staff levels that far ahead?

    Thanks for any opinions.

  • Registered Users Posts: 26,342 ✭✭✭✭Peregrinus

    This misconception illustrates the point I'm making exactly.

    It is not illegal to terminate an employee who is unable to do the job. This includes an employee whose state of health is such that they cannot do the job. Employers are reluctant to do this, both because most employers are decent people and because dismissing, rehiring and retraining is expensive and disruptive, but it's not illegal. And it does happen, especially when people are chronically ill.

    But, despite the risk, the parents of young children do take "sick leave" to discharge caring responsibilities towards those children. Even apart from the fact that taking sick leave when you're not actually sick is a disciplinary matter, taking lots of sick leave does have implications for your career progression and potentially your employment, but they do it anyway. Why? Because they don't have a lot of choice, basically.

    How should employers react? Well, if you value the employees and wish to retain them, you will try to make it possible for them to work for you, and discharge their parenting/caring responsibilities, without having to lie about it and jeopardise their career/employment. That's not wokeness or politically correctness; it's common sense and old-fashioned economic self-interest. Hence, flexible hours; part-time work; job-sharing, etc.

    You don't make these available only to parents; that would be illegal. But the parents of young children will disproportionately avail of them, because they have particular needs which these arrangements can meet.

    Employers who don't do things like this will find that they lose a disproportionate amount of mid-career employees, particularly women, who gravitate towards workplaces that do do things like this. That's a considerable loss of investment in training and developing staff.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,232 ✭✭✭TooTired123

    Ana knew from last September when the Easter holidays at school were going to be. At some stage over Christmas she might have thought it might be nice to go to Lanzarote at Easter. She certainly booked the holiday in January. Why didn’t she apply for A/L then?

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,317 ✭✭✭gameoverdude

    When I was younger I didn't mind taking my holidays out of school time and facilitate their needs. A few deals done.

    Broke down with one colleague when I booked holidays for something special to me and they went mental.

    I just plan and book earlier now. Go jump I was first in. Exceptions of course. I don't mind altering days if needed and I'm not losing money.

    Sometimes people don't cop on its not just their colleague that's being effected.

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  • Posts: 1,539 ✭✭✭ [Deleted User]

    My first preference would be to approve both, if I could, (say I was going to be in myself and there were other staff around as well).

    Nine times out of ten, I'd approve Mary's first also - but, I'd also look back over the last year or two and see if there is a pattern of leave taken around significant bank holidays.

    Say if Mary has been off for the last two Easter breaks, and Anna has worked them both, I would check with Mary and see if she had anything already booked or if alternative weeks might suit, before making the final call.