Annual holidays

The provisions concerning annual holidays are in the Annual Holidays Act. Collective agreements may include more detailed clauses on the determination of annual holidays and the salary or compensation paid for the duration of them. A clause in a collective agreement that is more favorable to employees supersedes the provisions of the Annual Holidays Act.

The holiday credit year begins on 1 April and ends on 31 March. The holiday credit year is the period of time during which the holidays included in a particular holiday year are earned.

A (full) holiday credit month is a calendar month of a holiday credit year during which an employee accumulates at least 14 days at work or days equivalent to days at work (what is referred to as the “14-day rule”). All working days are accepted as days at work, regardless of their length. If an employee, in accordance with their employment contract, is at work for so few days that they do not accumulate any holiday credit months including 14 days at work or if, due to this reason, only some of the calendar months come to include 14 days at work, a calendar month during which the employee has accumulated at least 35 hours of work or hours equivalent to hours at work (what is referred to as the “35-hour rule”) is considered a full holiday credit month. The accumulation rules are alternative.

The length of an annual holiday is determined according to the full holiday credit months. In principle, employees earn two working days’ worth of holidays for each full holiday credit month. This means that they accumulate 24 days of holiday during a full holiday credit year. If the employment relationship has continued without interruption for at least a year by 31 March, the employee has earned 2.5 working days’ worth of holidays for each full holiday credit month. In this case, the employee accumulates 30 days of annual holidays during a full holiday credit year. Furthermore, in such cases, the part that exceeds 24 days is deemed a winter holiday. When calculating the length of a holiday, a partial day is rounded up to a full day of holiday.

Periods equivalent to time at work are listed in the Annual Holidays Act. Such periods are considered time spent at work when calculating the amount of full holiday credit months.

Periods equivalent to time at work include

  • employees’ own annual holidays
  • 156 days of maternity/paternity or parental leave
  • a sickness or injury, although for a maximum of 75 working days during a holiday credit year
  • layoff, although for a maximum of 30 working days at a time
  • a shortening of working weeks corresponding to a layoff, although for a maximum of six months at a time
  • study leave, although for a maximum of 30 working days during a holiday credit year and only if the employee returns to work immediately after the study leave
  • some other reason, if the employer has, according to the law, been obligated to pay a salary to the employee for such a day, despite the absence.

Annual holidays are granted during a period defined by the employer as provided in the Annual Holidays Act. The summer holiday portion of an annual holiday must principally be granted as a continuous holiday between 2 May and 30 September (holiday season). Any winter holiday is granted prior to the beginning of the next holiday season. The portion of an annual holiday exceeding 24 days is called a winter holiday. If the maximum amount of accumulated holidays is 24 days, no winter holiday is granted.

When the employer determines the dates of a holiday, the employer must inform the relevant employee of them no more than a month prior to the start of the holiday. If this is not possible, the employee may be notified of the dates of the holiday later, although no later than two weeks prior to the start of the holiday. A month’s notice is the unconditional rule of thumb. Two weeks’ notice is possible if the month’s notice cannot factually be complied with (such as in cases where the employer is waiting for a major order). Even then, the employee must be notified as soon as possible and no later than two weeks prior to the start of the holiday.

Employers’ notifications on the dates of annual holidays are binding and employees must be able to rely on such notifications. Employers do not have the right to change, postpone or bring forward or cancel agreed holidays. Changes may be agreed on,

but if an employer nevertheless postpones or brings forward, changes or cancels an already agreed-upon holiday, the employer may become liable for damages. Such damages may include any expenses arising from the cancellation of a trip, any tickets bought for various events and other equivalent expenses.

The employer decides a holiday’s ultimate dates, and may therefore change the date on which the holiday begins, even if it would become liable for damages as a result. In the event that the employee has already started their holiday, however, the employer may not interrupt the holiday.

The law does not provide for a holiday bonus (also called “end-of-holiday pay”). Such salary components are based on clauses in collective agreements or employment contracts. A holiday bonus usually consists of 50 percent of the amount of the holiday pay.

The usual prerequisite for the payment of a holiday bonus is that the holiday is actually taken. This is why holiday compensation is not usually subject to the payment of a holiday bonus. The conditions for the payment of a holiday bonus must nevertheless be checked from the applicable collective agreement

If an employee is incapacitated for work due to a sickness, accident or childbirth when their annual holiday or part of it begins, the holiday must be postponed at the employee’s request. The employee has a corresponding right to postpone or bring forward a holiday if the employee is, prior to the beginning of their holiday, aware that they will undergo hospital treatment during their holiday.

If an incapacity for work attributable to a sickness, accident or childbirth begins during an annual holiday or part thereof, the employee is entitled, at their request, to postpone or bring forward the days of incapacity for work included in the annual holiday exceeding six holidays. The aforementioned own-contribution days may not reduce the employee’s right to a four-week annual holiday. However, the right to postpone a holiday or bring it forward does not apply when the employee has caused their incapacity for work willfully or through gross negligence.

The employee must request the postponement or advancement of the holiday from the employer without delay. At the employer’s request, the employee must also present a reliable account of their incapacity for work.

If a holiday must be postponed or brought forward, the holiday in question must be granted during the holiday season and the winter holiday prior to the start of the following holiday season. If granting the holiday in this manner is not possible, the holiday must be granted during the holiday season of the calendar year following the holiday season, and in any event no later than by the end of the calendar year in question. If granting the holiday, due to continued incapacity for work, is not possible even as explained above, the holiday not received is compensated for with holiday compensation. Employers must notify employees of the dates of holidays that postponed or brought forward two weeks before the holiday starts, or, should this not be possible, no later than a week before.

You are entitled to additional leave days complementing an annual holiday if you have not accumulated 24 days of annual holiday during the holiday credit year due to an illness or medical rehabilitation. The entitlement is no longer valid when the absence has continued for more than 12 months without a break. The continuousness of an absence is interrupted by any days or hours at work that entitle an employee to a full holiday credit month.

Employees are entitled to receive compensation equal to their regular or average salary for additional leave days.  It is not, however, holiday pay, and it is not, in principle, subject to the payment of a holiday bonus pursuant to a collective agreement.

At the end of an employment relationship, any holidays that have not been taken are paid as holiday compensation. Holiday compensation can be calculated by dividing the monthly salary by 25 and multiplying the result by the relevant number of holidays (monthly salary / 25 × holidays not taken).

Employers can also time holidays to take place during a period of notice, but in such cases, too, the notification periods and other provisions pertaining to the granting of holidays provided for in the Annual Holidays Act must naturally be complied with.

Employers may recover any paid holiday bonuses at the end of an employment relationship if the conditions for its payment have not been met.  According to a number of collective agreements, holiday bonuses are not paid for any holidays not taken. If you do not take or use your holidays, you are not entitled to a holiday bonus and your employer may recover it. You should always check the clauses pertaining to holiday bonuses in your own collective agreement.

All working days are counted as days of annual holiday, and Saturdays are mainly working days. Because of this, a week of holiday is usually equal to six earned days of an annual holiday. The rule of calculating annual holidays is identical for all employees, regardless of which days of the week are actually each employee’s working days.

The law does not, however, recognize the “Saturday rule”, i.e. the idea that, from a computational point of view, every sixth day of holiday would be a Saturday. This does not mean that the procedure is against the law. Employers should nevertheless ensure that placing holidays on Saturdays is agreed on or that it is consented to by the employee.

According to the Annual Holidays Act, annual holidays are granted to employees primarily on dates determined by the employer. Employers’ right to determine the dates of holidays is limited by rules pertaining to the timing and uninterrupted nature of holidays. Among other things, employers may not time a holiday of three days or less in such a way that one of them would coincide with a day that would be a day off according to an employee’s work schedule. A short holiday may be timed to coincide with a day off only with the employee’s consent.

The Labour Council has issued an opinion on calculated Saturdays (TN 1472-17), in which it adopted the view that the general information available online according to which six days of holiday should always, as a rule, include a Saturday, does not mean, in principle, that an employee has given their tacit consent to the procedure described in the instructions or that they could be considered to have agreed to it with their employer.

In practice, the opinion clarified the view that calculated Saturdays could be used, as long as the procedure is agreed upon with the employee. The burden of proof in terms of the employee’s consent or the agreement remains with the employer.