Do I have to cover my colleague’s holiday?

Is it compulsory for me to cover a member of staff’s annual leave considering her hours are less than mine and we do not job share. I work 34 hours a week and she works 28. I have been doing this for a number of years and this year I decided that another member of staff (who also works less hours than myself) could do this as being a working mum I was missing out with my children. Although I would not be changing my hours it would change my hourly pattern. It is not mentioned anywhere in my contract that I have to do this. This year I have not covered and I now have been told that this definitely has not gone in my favour. Please can someone advise where I stand, and whether I should have been made to feel bad about not covering her holiday?

Annual Leave


To provide a complete answer to this question I would need to review your contract of employment. Nevertheless, you state that there is nothing in your contract that says you should have to cover a colleagues holiday annual leave. Therefore your employer cannot expect you to change your hourly pattern just because they would like you to. Forcing you to do so could amount to breach of contract and indirect sex discrimination due to your childcare commitments.

I note that you have previously covered this individual’s annual leave. Terms can be implied in to a contract of employment via custom and practice if you have continued with this practice over a period of time. Yet from what you state in your question, it does not appear that you or your employer believe that this was the case here.

I also note that your employer has then said that your refusal to cover the annual leave has not gone in your favour. If you feel this comment amounted to intimidation or bullying then I suggest that you raise the issue informally with your employer. The best person to approach would depend on the business. It might be your supervisor or someone in HR.

If the issue cannot be resolved informally, the next step would be to raise a formal grievance. If the issue still remains unresolved once the grievance procedure has been exhausted, then I would suggest you take further legal advice to discuss your options. Please note that any claim for sex discrimination needs to be submitted to an employment tribunal within three months of the discriminatory act and you would need to go through the acas pre-conciliation procedures before your claim would be accepted by an employment tribunal.

Should you require any further clarification on the above points then please do not hesitate to contact Tracey Guest of Slater Heelis on 0161 672 1246.

*Helen Frankland has assisted in answering this question.

Comments [4]

  • Andreea Magos says:

    I am working on a permanent position of Goods inwards team leader. This year my holidays have been refused because I did not had cover. I used a part of then by taking half days when we were not busy and when I had 5 days off my workplace and colleagues kept calling and asked about work stuff. I consider that this is an abuse of power. When I tried to speak with the manager I was stopped by one of the supervisors. Could you please advise about this situation?

    • Mandy Garner says:

      Employers do not have to agree holiday at a specific time if there is a business reason for turning down holiday eg it is a busy period, but they do have to ensure you can take holiday at some point during the year. Your employer can contact you while you are on leave, but, unless it is written into your contract, you do not have to respond. The best thing is to bring this up with your employer and negotiate that this should only occur in specific emergencies.

  • Ellen says:

    If I cover a colleagues holiday will I be entitled to a day if in leiu or another days holiday addedecuded that I have to cover three colleagues holidays which would total 16 days I only get 16 days holiday an I entitled to this time back
    When I first started thus position we did not have to cover holidays now it’s decided that we do
    Please help m
    In my position it has now been d

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