‘Should I tell my boss I’m taking holiday for a vac scheme?’

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By Legal Cheek on


One budding commercial solicitor seeks a safe route away from their financial career

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one financial consultant is looking for a safe route into law.

“I currently work as a financial consultant, but I am committed to becoming a commercial lawyer. I have been trying to secure a direct training contract for over a year, but I have been unsuccessful. This is why I have decided to change my approach, and will be applying to vacation schemes, as I hope these will give me a greater chance to ultimately secure a training contract.

The issue is that I currently have a full-time soon-to-be senior position at my firm, and it would be too risky to quit my job for a two week vacation scheme. Do you think that it would be possible to take out holidays in order to complete a vac scheme? Legally speaking, can I complete a vac scheme without quitting my current job? How do people usually go about these situations?”

If you have a career conundrum, email us at team@legalcheek.com.



Relax. Of course you can do a vac scheme without quitting your job. Just take it as holiday.


Don’t listen to Anon, it’s completely immoral not to tell your employer what your career intentions are – how is it going to work if you actually get the tc?


You leave if you get the TC?


What are you on about? If you get a. TC or any other job, you hand in your notice like everyone else does.

From an employment lawyer

Legally, you have no requirement to tell your employer what you are using your annual leave for, even though the purpose of your annual leave is for rest etc. I recall using annual leave to attend assessment centres/open days/interviews and I never told them the purpose for my leave. Of course, my employer might have been surprised that I was leaving to attend a TC (but they were probably more surprised that I had the career ambitions to go for it). Whilst a key feature of the employer employee relationship is “control” that is within the confines of work (of course any action in your personal life that could bring your profession into disrepute could lead to you being dismissed but attending a VS is not a form of misconduct). It’s your life and your employer cannot dictate what you do or the choices you make both personally and professionally. You should just ensure that you manage to rest hard in those weekends or your vac scheme! Good luck (from an employment lawyer)

Anne On

I’m doing a PGDL alongside a professional career with a view to switching to the Bar. I’m in a senior position in my current role but I’ve not told my colleagues or the directors about the PGDL and when I take annual leave to do mini pupillages, people just assume I’m going on holiday. Your current employer doesn’t own you outside of the time you are contracted to them; you can use your annual leave for whatever you like. I haven’t told my employer about my career change plans as it would cause a lot of uncertainty for them and there are so many variables (eg securing pupillage) that might mean I don’t ever get to make the switch, no matter how much I want to.


It’s fine to take two weeks of annual leave and not really anyone else’s business what you’re doing with that time. I suppose just worth being aware that firms sometimes post, eg on LinkedIn, something to welcome vac scheme participants, often with a photo, so potentially compromising if you’re tagged into something there.


What about conflict of interest checks and if it’s written in your employment contract that you must get consent?


Think it’s on the letter-writer to check their contract and comply with it – would assume they’d done so ahead of writing to LC and are pursing vac scheme opportunities on the basis that there’s no conflict and nothing in their contract to say they shouldn’t.


If the employer is a law firm, is it only a solicitor (I.e. somebody giving legal advice) who needs to be checked for conflict of interest, or do paralegals/legal assistants need to also be checked? Thanks


Paralegals/Legal Assistants go through the same conflicts process as everyone else unfortunately. When I was a Paralegal and went to work at a US law firm, the conflicts process was an absolute nightmare…


You should also check your employment terms with your current employer – I’m pretty sure my employment contract (with a law firm) states that I’m not allowed to be employed by anyone else at the same time unless cleared by the firm. May get you in hot water if they somehow find out.


I don’t see the issue here. Many people have a full time job (often as paralegal etc) whilst applying for vac scheme or mini pupillage.

It just means you will need to use some of your annual leave. I don’t see why you need to tell your employer what you are doing on your annual leave.

Morris v Murray

I did this. Just took it as holiday. Converted vac scheme to a TC.

There is nothing immoral about not telling them. I would take unauthorised days off if I needed to.

If you want it bad enough and they don’t let you take the holiday. You’ll quit and do the vac scheme anyway. Trust me they wouldn’t give you the same consideration if it came to cost cutting. Companies aren’t (natural) people and don’t have souls, as much as some try to tell you.


If it’s a paid vac scheme – take it as holiday or as unpaid leave (if your employer is being difficult about you taking it as holiday). I did this for a 3 month summer internship, they’ll appreciate the honesty

Career changer

I took two weeks leave to do a vac scheme without telling my then current job. I’d also been promoted about three weeks prior. As far as I was concerned it was none of their business how I chose to use my annual leave – and no real difference to faking a doctors appointment for an interview!


There’s no need to share this information with your employer; for one thing, it’s none of their business.

Ideally you would take the absence as unpaid leave (it would be a shame to sacrifice annual leave for this if you’re unsuccessful) but that is more likely to invite questions, and while it’s one thing not to volunteer the reason for your absence it’s quite another (morally speaking) to lie about it.

As a fellow career-changer best of luck, and can I suggest preparing yourself psychologically for the (temporary) diminution in status; I know this isn’t what you asked, but as you’re now in a position of some seniority you may find it jarring at first to find yourself at the bottom of the greasy pole.

Two ways to play…

You need to think carefully about this. There are some real cow boy answers in these comments.

If you don’t tell employers and it turns out that your contract (like most of all Uk contracts) prevents you from working for someone else whilst working for your employer – then, if this employer finds out, they can fire you. If they find out.

If you tell them, there’s a chance that they might say no, so it might be better to take it as annual leave without telling them. But they might agree if you are upfront about career changing – don’t expect them to promote you to that senior role those – these don’t go to people who plan on leaving the company.

I’m sure you’ve done a million of these in your role – but this is where you need to risk assess it and balance the importance of doing the vac scheme (very important to getting a TC?) against the chances of employer denying you the chance to do it, or finding out and firing you – depending on how you choose to play it. I hope it works out for you. Not a bad place to be – but think through your choices – get a legal opinion on your contract first if you want something legal to rely on?

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