Am I allowed holiday on a zero hours contract?

I am working for a company on zero hours and I am happy with this for now.  I only work for six hours, twice a week.  Someone in a different department asked me to replace her while she was on maternity leave and I agreed. Same contract and hours. In my current department, my colleague who is on a regular contract booked her holiday in August.  I also booked my holiday in August without telling my supervisor. I need to visit my old parents whom I see once a year and they live abroad. My question is since I work zero hours can they do anything about this? Does replacing the woman who is going on maternity leave make a difference?

On a zero hours contract you are entitled to annual leave the same as any other employee and you wouldn’t have to accept work offered for the week you wished to have annual leave. However, the employer isn’t obliged to provide any hours for the weeks when you wish to return if they don’t have alternative cover for you to take that week. They could employ someone who can work those weeks and say that work is no longer required by you.

Out of courtesy I would ask for that week off and see what they say. As I said, you are allowed to have annual leave, but there should still be that discussion before you take it. Otherwise you could find yourself out of work.

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