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Home Employment contract fact: Are you entitled to holiday in your first summer? Who decides when you can take leave?

Employment contract fact: Are you entitled to holiday in your first summer? Who decides when you can take leave?


  • Employment contract
  • Labour law

Annual holiday is accrued in the leave year (1.4.–31.3.), i.e. most of the holiday is earned during the previous calendar year. If the employment relationship has lasted less than one year in a single period up to the end of March, holiday accrues for 2 days for each full month of holiday. Thereafter, leave accrues at the rate of 2.5 days per month. As a general rule, holiday is not transferred from one employer to another, but a holiday allowance is paid for untaken holiday at the end of the employment relationship and annual holiday starts to accrue from zero in the new job.

This means that you may not yet have accrued any days of paid holiday in your new job, but before you sign a contract, you should negotiate the possibility of taking some paid holiday in your first summer.

If there is no agreement on paid holiday, you can ask for unpaid holiday. Especially if you have paid holiday allowances from your previous job, this is an option to try.

What about part-time work?

According to the Annual Holidays Act, part-time workers do not accrue annual holidays if they work either less than 14 days or less than 35 hours per month. However, in this case, two working days/month of leave are accrued for the calendar months during which the employment relationship is in force. This means that the worker is entitled to two working days off per working month if he or she so wishes. Part-time workers are also entitled to a holiday allowance, which is paid either at the end of the holiday period (30.9.) or otherwise.

How about fixed-term employment?

Fixed-term employees earn annual holiday for the normal duration of their employment. If the employment relationship continues after the fixed-term contract with the same employer without interruption or only with a short interruption under a new fixed-term contract, the employment relationship is considered to have continued for one period for the purpose of calculating the number of days of annual holiday.

In particular, in shorter fixed-term contracts, such as summer contracts, holidays are not usually taken but are paid as holiday pay at the end of the employment relationship. If the employment relationship continues after the fixed-term contract, for example, accrued holidays and holiday pay under a part-time contract are taken into account in the normal way.

Things to note

If the employer determines the date of the annual holiday (VL 20§), 24 working days of the annual holiday (so-called summer holiday) must be taken during the holiday period (2.5.-30.9.). The remainder must be granted before the start of the next holiday period. Summer and winter holiday must be taken in one period, unless it is necessary to divide the part of the summer holiday exceeding 12 working days into several parts in order to keep the work going.

Where, in the case of seasonal work, the granting of holiday during the holiday period causes substantial difficulties for the employer, summer holiday may be granted outside the holiday period during the same calendar year. 
The employer ultimately decides on the timing of the annual holiday, but the employee must be given the opportunity to express his or her opinion. The employer must treat employees equally in the scheduling of holidays.

If the employer and the employee jointly agree on the timing of the holiday (VL 21 §§), they may agree that the employee may take the part of the holiday exceeding 12 working days in one or more periods. The parties may jointly agree to take annual holiday between the beginning of the calendar year of the holiday period (1.1.) and the beginning of the holiday period of the following year. In addition, the parties may agree to take any part of the holiday exceeding 12 working days no later than one year after the end of the holiday period.

When you are signing an employment contract, please note:

  • Negotiate with your employer whether you can take a holiday in your first summer.
  • Negotiate whether any holiday in the first year will be paid or unpaid.
  • It is also worth discussing the employer’s holiday policy in general: for example, can you carry over holiday days to the following year if necessary?
  • For example, if you start as a summer replacement, you will not have annual holiday that summer, but it is worth agreeing on any holiday entitlements when you sign the contract. At the same time, talk about possible hours in the warehouse and the possibility of taking compensatory leave.

Note! The Annual Holidays Act is a general law that applies to employees who are in an employment or service relationship. Collective agreements may provide for different arrangements from annual holiday, such as the payment of holiday pay and allowances and the period of holiday.