An employer can refuse an employee's request to take statutory holiday where the employee has failed to give the required period of notice.
Employees requesting statutory holiday must give notice of double the length of their holiday or the period prescribed by their employment contract. Where an employee fails to give the required notice, the employer can refuse the request. According to the EAT, this is so even if the request is made at the end of the holiday year so that the employee loses his untaken entitlement (as there is no obligation to allow carry over, except perhaps in cases of sickness – see our ebulletin on the ECJ's ruling in Pereda – or maternity leave).
The EAT also noted that the working time legislation allows employers to refuse requests even if made with sufficient notice, but that refusals must not be unreasonable, arbitrary or capricious. An employee's valid request close to the year end could be refused, eg if the employer's genuine staffing requirements justified refusal. (Lyons v Mitie Security, EAT)