UK employee here. I just completed a 3 month notice period at my company. In my contract, it stated that accrued leave is paid for if you resign. However, HR sent an email stating some facts and terms in the resignation period (e.g. returning laptop, checking payslip etc). In that document, they did say that I must take all of my leave. This document came in double the time of my leave (i.e. I had 10 days, so more than 20 days prior to end of my notice period).

However, this document was not worded as a contract variation or change in terms of conditions and no consent was sought (I.E. signing the pdf, etc).

I have spoken to some friends who work in HR and they say that this is perfectly reasonable for the company do, largely as they are just working towards their own interests and controlling how people take leave etc etc (And there has been high turnover so I assume the company doesn't want to keep paying out for unused leave). However, it seems a bit unrealistic e.g. I wouldn't just tell HR I am going to leave early every day and there you go.

Any advice appreciated, I just need a fact check here.

  • 2
    Advice on what? Please include an actionable Goal for us to help you with. Please, take the tour and read the help center to know what things are on-topic here.
    – DarkCygnus
    Oct 26, 2022 at 22:32
  • I think you need to clarify exactly what your employer is proposing here. You have finished employment, do they intend to not pay out your leave? Oct 27, 2022 at 6:30
  • And just because they have a policy that you take as much leave during your notice period doesn't automatically mean they will refuse to pay out your leave. Oct 27, 2022 at 6:33
  • Next time, why don't you just take the leave as written out in the HR document? Milking the company for extra money against their expressed wish might be legal, but "legal" seems so much trouble to go through compared to just doing what is common sense for both sides.
    – nvoigt
    Oct 27, 2022 at 7:20
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    @GregoryCurrie The intention of the company is to rather have a disengaged employee work less days and take the leave they are entitled to, instead of working more days only to be paid extra. Paying people more to work extra is for people you need to make profit, not for employees that on average are not super motivated.
    – nvoigt
    Oct 27, 2022 at 8:30

4 Answers 4


have spoken to some friends who work in HR and they say that this is perfectly reasonable for the company do, largely as they are just working towards their own interests

This doesn't make sense. A company acting in its own interests doesn't make it reasonable. In fact, companies will often act unreasonably in order to further its interests.

These are the facts as I understand:

  • You have ceased employed
  • You correctly gave notice
  • You have outstanding holiday leave
  • HR have presented a document that says you must take outstanding leave

Unfortunately for your ex-employer, it is a requirement under law that any outstanding leave is paid out at the completion of employment.

They may have required you to take leave during your notice period, but that didn't happen. I'm sure they enjoyed your productivity during this period.

The proper time that this should have been addressed was during your notice period.

You should look at the materials from the CAB and consider contacting them for advice:



In the UK, just as you can ask to take holidays, the company can ask you as well to take leave. That must be done with notice that is twice as long as the leave. So in principle, they can ask you to take one week leave two weeks from now. (Paid leave obviously). Where I have seen that is when a company closes down over Christmas, so they say "everyone has to take holiday from December 27th to Jan 2nd", for example, and they tell you many months ahead, and it's a time when many people want a holiday anyway, so nobody complains.

If you had 10 days of leave (two weeks), then they can ask you to take the leave 4 weeks ahead, before taking it. If they want you to take the leave within your notice period, then obviously you have to take the holiday two weeks before the end of the notice period, so they have to ask you six weeks before the end of the notice period. In that case they are in their rights.

If they told you 20 days before the end of your notice period, that's too late. The days are working days, just like the leave. If they realised they want you to take your leave 3 weeks before the end of the employment, then legally they could have asked you to take one week off at the end of your employment. (One week leave, telling you two weeks ahead). "Double the time of the leave" is counted in working days. And it counts to the start of the leave. So if the company wants you to take leave next Thursday and Friday, they have to tell you this Thursday (so Friday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are the required four days of notice).

So if they didn't give you enough time before telling you to take leave, then you can tell them that they didn't give you enough notice, and you are not going to take your leave. At the end of your employment, they need to calculate how much leave you are still owed, and pay your salary accordingly. Normally 1/230th of your annual salary for every day of leave that you are owed.

Re-reading the question: It seems your notice period is over, and it seems that no matter what they said, you didn't take that leave. You came to the office and worked. They could have told you "sorry, but you are on leave, go back home", but they didn't. So you didn't take leave, so they have to pay for it. They can make a stink about you not taking leave when you were told to, but that doesn't change the fact that you didn't take leave. And if they told you to take two weeks leave, two weeks before the leave, that's not enough notice, you didn't have to take the leave.


You may have misunderstood the contract

It probably says that the company will pay for any unused leave.

But companies do have the right to choose when you take annual leave. eg at my old company, everybody had to take the week between Christmas and New Year off.

So it's entirely up to them whether you work those last 10 days and pay extra, or whether you take it off.

  • That's not what the OP says. Oct 27, 2022 at 1:15
  • 1
    @DJClayworth Has the question be stealth edited? It seems to be exactly what the OP says, but you are the second person to hold that opinon.
    – nvoigt
    Oct 27, 2022 at 7:24
  • Hi Kaz, they can tell you when to take leave, but they have to give notice in the UK. Twice as long as the leave. So they couldn't tell you on December 23rd, but would have to tell you some time around December 10th at the latest. Which they obviously do.
    – gnasher729
    Oct 27, 2022 at 7:24

This isn't much of a contract change. I doubt anybody would consider it significant, and it may actually help you. I was always told to take my vacation before I left a company rather than getting it paid out, and I'll give you an example why.

Let's suppose you have to give two weeks notice, you have ten days leave accrued, you want to resign on the 1st of the month, and you are paid 1400 per week.

The normal thing before the change would have been to give your last day as the 14th and get paid ten extra days. Your last day of actual work is the 14th and your last paycheck would be 2 * 1400 + 10 * 1400/7 = 4800.

Instead now you are effectively forced to say that your last day is the 28th, but you take the two weeks (ten working days) between the 14th and the 28th as leave. Your last day of actual work is still the 14th, but your last paycheck is 4 * 1400 = 5600. This is effectively because taking your days as leave means you are paid for the weekends you wouldn't otherwise be working.

Or if you really don't like you company you can give your two weeks notice, take all the days between 1st and 14th as leave, and not come in to work tomorrow. Since the company requires you to take your leave they cannot make it impossible for you to take it in your remaining time at the company. Of course in order to be a decent human being you probably shouldn't do that.

  • Reason for downvotes?? Oct 27, 2022 at 1:13
  • 1
    OP has already finished employment. Them being "on the books" for some period of time may mean they are unable to start employment elsewhere. It's also unclear to me how you can take leave on days that you actually wouldn't have been working, or what this even means. Oct 27, 2022 at 6:21

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