When and how you can take your holiday

Not sure what the holiday entitlement is and when you are actually entitled to it? And what to do if your employer doesn’t want to recognise your holiday even though you have already paid for the trip?

Muž s počítačem sedí na pláži na lehátku
6 minutes of reading

Chapters of the article

What leave am I entitled to?

To start with, it is important to note that there are several types of leave. The most common is the annual leave, or a pro rata part of it in the case of shorter periods of service with the employer. This leave is at least four weeks per calendar year for everyone, provided that the employee has already worked at least 60 days.

However, if you have not yet worked 60 days, you are entitled to holiday for the days worked. Specifically, this is 1/12 of the holiday for every 21 days worked (i.e. one month). If you have been with your new employer for a month and your contract of employment provides for 5 weeks’ holiday, you are entitled to 16.5 hours’ holiday (200/12), i.e. 2 working days.

If an employee wants to take a week (five days) of holiday, which is a quarter of a four-week holiday, they must have worked for at least three months. In the event that it doesn’t work out that nicely, the vacation days would be rounded up.

An extra fifth week of vacation is also popular lately, as employers overdo the benefits they try to lure new employees to. In fact, it is possible to negotiate any extension of leave with an employer, even if only for some employees. However, in this case it is important to pay attention to the principle of non-discrimination. If the longer leave applies only to certain positions, there must be a justification for it, and it is not possible to extend it only to some employees who are all doing the same job. Teachers or teaching staff, who have up to 8 weeks’ leave, also have different lengths of leave.

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Tip: Have you started a new job, are you on a three-month probationary period and are not sure when you can take your holiday? Can you use it during the probationary period? And what about if you work “on an I.T.O.”?

However, the holiday rules have relatively recently undergone a major change. It is now introduced that when calculating leave, the number of hours worked by the employee will be taken into account and leave will be taken in proportion to this. It will therefore not be strictly calculated on the basis of weeks, as is the case today. This rule is being introduced for the sake of employees with flexible working hours, e.g. in the case of different shift lengths. There may be inequalities in the calculation of leave, for example, in the case of irregular shifts where some weeks meant five days off and others just two extra days.

From 2021, therefore, leave is not counted in days but in hours. The mandatory 4 weeks (or 5 or more weeks that an employer may voluntarily grant) of leave for a standard 8-hour working day will be converted to 160 hours. If you are entitled to 5 weeks holiday, this means 200 hours.

Let’s look at how the calculation of leave would work with shorter hours, for example. An employee who works 30 hours in a week has 5 weeks holiday agreed with their employer. He has worked 52 weeks in a calendar year, i.e. 1 585 hours. His holiday entitlement is therefore calculated as 30 hours x 5 weeks’ holiday, giving a total of 150 hours’ holiday.

The purpose of leave is to allow the employee to rest and recharge. The rules are therefore set so that the leave is actually taken. For this reason, the Labour Code restricts the possibility of paying for untaken leave.

The only possible situation in which an exchange of leave for money is possible is in the event of termination of employment. Thus, in the termination notice or agreement, the employer can choose whether to order the remaining leave within the notice period or to let the employee work until the last day and then pay compensation for the untaken leave.

How do I decide when to take leave?

The employer decides when to take leave. It must give at least 14 days’ notice. In practice, however, the holiday dates are usually set by mutual agreement or on the basis of an internal system. However, the employee is also entitled to at least two weeks’ holiday in total, unless otherwise agreed. If the employee does not take the leave in a calendar year and does not quit, the untaken leave is carried over to the following year, provided that if the employer does not determine the period of this “old” leave by 30 June of the following year, the employee will determine it himself, which must be notified to the employer at least 14 days in advance.

If the employee does not come to work for certain reasons and misses shifts, the employer may shorten the leave. However, leave cannot be reduced for absence for reasons such as employer’s obstacles, maternity leave, temporary incapacity for work due to an occupational accident or disease, public holidays or when taking time off in lieu for overtime or public holidays. In addition, the employer may reduce leave for unexcused absences. For a day so missed, the employer shall deduct the number of unexcused hours in the shift from the total number of hours of leave. This is a change from the previous penalty, where the employer could reduce leave by 1 to 3 days. However, even if leave is reduced, the employee must still have at least 3 weeks of leave.

Tip: Flight cancellations can make holidays unpleasant. Learn what your rights are.

What if my employer cancels my leave at the last minute?

In such a case, the Labour Code states that the employer is obliged to compensate the employee for the costs incurred through no fault of his/her own. Therefore, if the employer approves a holiday in the spring for July, for example, and then “changes its mind”, the employer must reimburse the employee for all costs, including the purchased trip.

Theemployer can interrupt or terminate the leave at any time and call the employee back to work, but then pay for such things as transportation back home, hotel cancellation fees, or deposits paid to the travel agent. In practice, however, this does not often happen; we have dealt with only one such case.

Tip: The probationary period is the time when the employer checks whether the person is really suitable for the position and when the employee finds out whether the position really suits him/her. But how does illness affect this period and what about holiday entitlement? This is the subject of our separate article.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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