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Asking employees to take holidays in good time

Monday 28/09/2020
Vraag werknemers tijdig om vakantiedagen op te nemen

Every year, employers are having to deal with employees who still have (too) many days of leave left at the end of the year. This year the number will probably be even higher due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Many people are waiting for better times before taking their holidays. However, as an employer it is important that you remind your employees to take their remaining holidays in good time. Otherwise you might be fined.

Compulsory holiday take-up

Statutory holidays must be taken before the end of the holiday year and cannot be carried over to the following year. Only if employees are unable to take up their holiday entitlement because of, for example, maternity leave or incapacity for work, can the employer pay out the remaining holiday entitlement at the end of the year.

It is important, therefore, to call upon your employees to take their remaining holidays in good time to ensure that these holidays can still be spread across the remaining months of the year. This will also avoid too many employees being absent at the end of December to take up the balance of their holidays.

Employer sanctions

Employers who do not allow employees to take their holidays may incur a criminalfine of between €400 and €4,000 per employee, or an administrative fine of between €200 and €2,000 per employee. This fine is multiplied by the number of employees involved, with a maximum of 100 x the maximum fine. This may consequently lead to considerable fines.

Tip 1

The obligation to take all holidays during the holiday year only applies to statutory holidays and not to non-statutory holidays. Always ensure that employees take their statutory holidays first and only then their non-statutory holidays. Incorporate this approach in the procedure for holiday requests.

For the sake of completeness, we would also like to mention that it would be useful to include compensation days in this procedure. Although these are compensation days for excess hours worked rather than actual holidays, these compensation days must also be taken within the reference period. In most cases, compensation days must be taken on an annual basis to ensure that the average working week hours are respected.

Tip 2

Formulate unequivocal agreements in the employment regulations regarding the taking of holidays. For example, stipulate that employees must take at least two weeks' holiday during the summer months or that three-quarters of the holidays must be taken before the end of September.

Tip 3

Notify employees in good time of the number of days of leave remaining and encourage them to take up these days before the end of the year. If, as an employer, you can prove that you specifically asked employees to take up their holidays and they did not take them regardless, it can be argued that they voluntarily waived their right to them. Of course, it is important that you should offer your employees sufficient opportunities to take their holidays over the course of the year.

If you find that your employees still have to take too many holidays in 2020 and you would like to come to an optimum solution for both parties, or incorporate a procedure concerning the uptake of holidays in the employment regulations, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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Saskia Lombaerts
Saskia Lombaerts
Director Tax & Legal