Annual Leave – Where do You Stand?

Hands up everyone who has taken all of their annual leave since the beginning of the Pandemic. We thought as much. There are many employees who are not taking their annual leave either because they are waiting for the covid conditions to allow them to go on holiday, or they are working in an industry sector where the demand for labour has been relentless over the past 18 months and time off has not been possible.

Either way, they are millions of employees, and many employers who now have to manage the annual leave situation the pandemic has thrown us.

Can I Carry my Annual Leave Over?

Yes, you can. Under measures introduced by Business Secretary Alok Sharma on 27th March 2020, employees who have not taken all of their statutory annual leave entitlement due to COVID-19 will now be able to carry it over into the next 2 leave years. The regulations allow up to 4 weeks of unused leave to be carried into the next 2 leave years, which has helped ease the requirements on business to ensure that workers take the statutory amount of annual leave in any one year.

I’m Still on/Have Been on Furlough – Am I entitled to Annual Leave?

Yes! Workers who have been placed on furlough continue to accrue statutory holiday entitlements, and any additional holiday provided for under their employment contract. Workers on furlough can take holiday without disrupting their furlough. The notice requirements for the employer requiring a worker to take leave or to refuse a request for leave continue to apply. Where a bank holiday falls inside a worker’s period of furlough and the worker would usually have had the bank holiday as annual leave, there are 2 options:

  • The bank holiday is taken as annual leave
  • The bank holiday is deferred

It is important to note that even though an employee is furloughed, holiday pay is payable at 100% of the normal salary, bearing in mind that the government subsidy will be at a lower rate.

I’ve Saved Up My Holiday When I Could Have Taken it, What are My Options?

There is a clear difference between stockpiling holiday due to the pandemic or stockpiling it just because you wanted to. If an employee has been stockpiling holidays, then an employer can force them to use their holiday entitlement if sufficient notice is given, which will be at least twice as long as the period of leave they are requesting the employee to take as holiday.

If I book a Holiday and it is Cancelled due to the Pandemic, can my Employer Still Make Me Take it?

It is unlikely that your contract of employment will state that once a holiday has been booked it must be taken, primarily because this is not a problem that most employers would have considered before the pandemic. Given the last-minute nature of these cancellations, it is unlikely that employers will be able to give sufficient notice requiring employees to retain this leave.

The past 18 months have been a series of ups and downs for everyone. There have been employees who have had to work under different and stressful conditions. Employees that have had to work through the pandemic to provide vital services. And employees that have been furloughed and unsure of their future. Regardless of personal circumstances for both employees and employers, it is important to ensure that your HR processes are up to date and that you are making sure that the health and welfare of your employees is your number one priority.