Can an employee demand to have the summer holiday postponed pending vaccine and corona certificate?

| Insight

Many employees probably want to postpone the holiday as long as possible this year, until they have been vaccinated, so that they can make the most out of the holiday, after a quite different summer holiday last year. We have looked more closely into what opportunities an employee has for postponing the summer holiday.

Introduction
The Covid-19 vaccine is currently being rolled out, and according to the authorities’ vaccination-plan, a large part of the population will receive their first dose during the summer months. As a rule, one must take the vaccine in one’s own home municipality, and not in the municipality where one has a summer house etc. In addition, the authorities are working on a corona certificate. It has not yet been clarified how such a certificate can be used, but the authorities are working to clarify this. A possible advantage for those who hold such a certificate may be that it will be easier to take a holiday abroad, and that one will be exempted for quarantine upon returning to Norway. In addition, such a certificate could provide other benefits, such as being able to take part in bigger gatherings or events.

For these reasons, many employees may want to postpone their holiday for as long as possible this year, to be able to take a long-awaited holiday in warmer regions abroad or attend events and bigger social gatherings at home. The question of whether an employee can postpone the summer holiday until after they have been fully vaccinated, will therefore probably be raised in many workplaces.

Can an employee freely decide the time of the summer holiday?

Main holiday
Questions regarding holiday, length of holidays and fixing holiday dates is regulated by The Holidays Act. The employee may demand to take his main holiday, comprising 18 working days, during the main holiday period, 1 June – 30 September, cf. The Holidays Act Section 7. Consequently, an employee is free to make a request as to when the holiday is to be taken within this period and ask to be allowed to take their 18 working days, the main holiday, in the latter part of September.

Section 6 of The Holidays Act states that in good time before holidays, employers shall discuss the fixing of holiday dates with each individual employee. For many companies, it can have a significant impact if almost the entire workforce wants to take their holiday at the end of September. This is especially the case for production companies, that often have a period of full shutdown in the middle of summer, and for companies that have their busiest time in autumn. If no agreement is reached between the employee and the employer, it is therefore within the employer’s right to fix the employee’s holiday dates within the limits which follow from sections 7 -9. The employer can consequently demand that the employee takes the main holiday for example in July.

However, there is one exception to this. Employees who are over 60 years of age, and therefore entitled to an extra holiday of 6 days according to section 5 of The Holidays Act, can decide for themselves when to take their extra holiday. Those who fall into this category will therefore be able to postpone these holidays until the autumn, if they so wish.

What about the rest of the holiday?
As referred to above, it is the main holiday period of 18 days that must be taken within the period 1 June – 30 September. The remaining holiday, which consists of 7 working days, the employee may demand to take consecutive within the holiday year. Consequently, the employee can «save» this part of the holiday until for example late autumn, to ensure that one will get to spend some holiday time as fully vaccinated, with the benefits that this may provide.