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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50210
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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Hi. Please can I ask for some advice. I work for the NHS in

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Hi. Please can I ask for some advice. I work for the NHS in a busy and heavy Acute unit. I had never received a full induction or talked through annual leave. Last years annual leave i had 4 weeks outstanding. not being fully aware how their system worked as it is different from any other company I've worked for and due to being on sick (twice long periods with a sick note) plus days off due to having problems with my epilepsy and general illnessess I did not get to take these. Now understanding the system and with April approaching where it will all be lost I have asked for over 5 weeks for management to help with my annual leave as I am desperate for time off. I have just recovered from pneumonia and still in recovery however very able to work. For 5 weeks I've been told they are too busy and to come back another day. The ward sister pencilled me in for a week annual leave in April however recently my ward manager cancelled it. Firstly I was told it was my own fault as I was too late putting my annual leave forms through. When I argued that as I was never talked the the annual leave system they suddenly changed the reason to I'm unable to take my leave as I've been off sick too much. Despite being off for depression which I had a sick note and pneumonia which also had a sick note for. Then 2 days off with epilepsy which I declared when applying. The days after I found out my dad had cancer I didn't feel emotionally well enough to work. I had to beg for annual leave. I was asked was I in the right profession. I am expected to care for stroke patient some 15+ and roll them alone which is physically causing me pain and causing problems with my home life. Any advice would be appreciated. I'm being made to feel this is normal in jobs and I'm going over the top. Apologies for any spelling errors. I'm typing from a mobile.



Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. What was different about this system of annual leave?

Customer: Hello. In my previous jobs annual leave was in days and usually we could book say a months notice. However in my current role it is done in hours and if for example I wanted to put annual leave in now your usually having to wait 4-5 months until you are able to find a day that it free. I was unaware once annual leave is given you have to put it all in at once. Even if you don't want a specific week off. Like a blanket booking. As I was not aware of this all spaces were taken up and with me being off on sick never was able to book a free date
Ben Jones :

How long were you off sick for?

Customer: I was off with depression which was around 3 weeks. Pneumonia I was off for 4 weeks. These two periods were covered by sick notes. Then there was 2 sick days due to epilepsy and also days off due to treatment for PCOS a medical condition I have. I'm sorry I'm not 100% on these days.
Ben Jones :

As far as the law stands, an employer has the right to decide when an employee takes their annual leave, either by rejecting specific requests or requesting that they take the leave on set days. Generally, if an employee does not take all of their allocated annual leave in the current year they will lose it, unless their contract allows for days to be carried over.


In this case you were not actually told of the annual leave system, although if there was a generally publicised policy which you would have been expected to check in your own time, the employer could argue that it would have been your responsibility to familiarise yourself with it. Of course it depends, on whether you were actually told such a policy existed or given any prompts to look at it. So this is one line of argument you can pursue.


The other would be if you can show that the reasons for which you were off sick were related to conditions which amount to a disability. In the legal sense of the word, disability can have a broad meaning and there is no single list of medical conditions that qualify. Instead, to establish whether a person is disabled, they need to show that they meet the legal definition of a ‘disability’.


The Equality Act 2010 defines a disability as a “physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on a person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities”.


I will break this definition down:

  • Physical or mental impairment – this can include nearly any medical condition;

  • Substantial effect – the effect must be more than minor or trivial;

  • Long-term - the effect of the impairment must either have lasted or be likely to last for at least 12 months;

  • Normal day-to-day activities – these could include anything considered ‘normal’ in a person's normal daily routine (e.g. walking, driving, speaking, eating, washing, etc.)


If a person satisfies the above criteria, they will be classified as being disabled and will have automatic protection against discrimination, which means that they must not be treated unfavourably because of their disability. There is also case law that states if someone is unable to take their holidays because they are off sick they must be allowed to take them at a later date and even be allowed to carry these over to the next holiday year if they are unable to take them in the current one.


Al of this can be resolved wither informally through the appropriate channels, as you have been attempting to do so until now, or if necessary by going through the formal grievance procedure at work.


Customer: Thank you so much for the above information and help on this. It is greatly appreciated.
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