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Home Fact about employment contracts: do you have a right to paid annual leave in the first summer? Who decides when a holiday can be taken?

Fact about employment contracts: do you have a right to paid annual leave in the first summer? Who decides when a holiday can be taken?


  • Employment contract
  • Labour law

Annual leave accrues over a holiday credit year (1 April–31 March). This means that most of the holiday is earned during the previous calendar year. If the employment relationship has lasted less than a year without interruption by the end of March, 2 days of holiday will accrue for each full month of the holiday credit year. After this, holiday is accrued at 2.5 days/month. As a rule, holidays are not transferred from one employer to another, but holiday compensation for untaken holidays is paid at the end of the employment relationship, and annual leave begins to accrue at the new workplace from zero. 

In other words, you may not have had time to accrue holiday yet in a new place of work, but before signing the employment contract, it is advisable to negotiate the possibility of taking some paid leave during the first summer.  

If you cannot reach an agreement on paid leave, you can request unpaid leave. Especially if you received holiday compensation from your previous job, this option is worth considering.

What about part-time work?

According to the Annual Holidays Act, annual leave is not accrued in part-time work if you work less than 14 days or 35 hours per month. In this case, however, two working days/month of leave are accrued for the calendar months during which the employment relationship is effective. This means that employees are entitled to two weekday leaves for each month of work if they so wish. Part-time employees are also paid holiday compensation, which is paid either in connection with leave or otherwise at the latest at the end of the holiday period (30 September).

What about a fixed-term employment relationship?

Fixed-term employees accrue annual leave as normal during their employment relationship. If, after the fixed-term period, the employment relationship continues with the same employer without interruption or only with a short interruption, with a new fixed-term employment contract, the employment relationship is considered to have continued for a continuous period for the purpose of calculating accrued holiday.  

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

Take this into account

When the employer determines when you take your holiday (section 20 of the Annual Holidays Act), 24 working days of annual leave (referred to as the ‘summer holiday’) must be fall within the summer holiday period (2 May–30 September). The rest must be granted before the start of the next holiday season. Summer and winter holidays must be granted without interruption, unless it is necessary for the employer to divide the part of the summer holiday exceeding 12 working days into several parts to secure the continuation of operations. 

In the case of seasonal work, summer holiday may be granted outside the holiday period but during the same calendar year, if taking annual holiday during the holiday period would cause material difficulties for the employer.  
The timing of annual leave is ultimately determined by the employer, but the employee must be given the opportunity to express their opinion. The employer must treat employees equally when it comes to the timing of holidays. 

If the employer and employee mutually agree (section 21 of the Act on the Holiday) on the time of the holiday, they may agree that the employee will take the part of the holiday exceeding 12 working days in one or more periods. The parties may jointly agree on the timing of annual leave any time between the beginning the calendar year of the holiday period (1 January) and the start of the holiday period of the following year. In addition, the parties may agree to take any holiday exceeding 12 working days no later than one year after the end of the holiday period.

When signing an employment contract, be sure to:

  • negotiate with your employer whether you are allowed to take some holiday during the first summer. 
  • negotiate whether any leave taken during the first year leave is paid or unpaid.  
  • It is also a good idea to talk about the employer’s holiday practices in general: for example, can holiday days be postponed to the following year if necessary? 
  • For example, if you start as a summer help, you will not have annual leave that summer, but it is a good idea to agree on your possible wishes regarding holiday early, when first signing the employment contract. Also discuss the possibility of working extra hours for time off in lieu.  ​​​​​​​

Please note: The Annual Holidays Act is a general act that applies to employees who are in an employment or public service relationship. Collective agreements may contain provisions that differ from the Annual Holidays Act, for example, on the payment of holiday pay and compensation and the holiday period.

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