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How long have you worked there for?
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What the employer is doing is possible. Under the Working Time Regulations an employer has the right to reject a worker’s request for annual leave as long as they give them the specified notice period, which under law must be at least as long as the leave requested. So if someone asks for one day holiday, the employer can refuse that request, without having to provide any reason for doing so, by giving them at least 1 day’s notice before the leave is due to be taken. This notice could be in the form of a notice in the contract or some policy. For example employers force employees to take holidays over Christmas or other periods of shutdown and contain this requirement in their contracts. A similar thing could be applied here where they just put in a blanket policy about this which means they would automatically be rejecting such requests and as it is almost certain such policy would have been put in place more than a day before the leave due to be taken, it would have discharged the employer’s obligation to give that notice period to reject any requests of single day holidays by employees.
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