Holiday entitlement during Coronavirus

20 May 2020 | Anoop Sodhi

Since the introduction of Furlough back in March 2020, employers are now contemplating how to manage holiday entitlement.  Though furlough is a temporary measure of leave from work, all employees will continue to accrue annual leave. Employers should check contracts of employment to see what holiday entitlements are, the statutory minimum entitlement is 5.6 weeks days. Government guidelines state staff can take annual leave during furlough.

Annual Leave

As staff are at home keeping safe, can employers insist employees take annual leave? The government has introduced a temporary new law which allows staff to carry over a maximum of 4 weeks holidays over the next 2 years. 

The government guidelines suggest that the 4 weeks roll over is applicable to employees who have been self – isolating or have been unwell due to Covid-19 crisis. Most importantly it is designed for those key workers who are unable to take time off due to work commitments.

Employers can manage holidays and request staff to take their leave, however they must be reasonable in this. Employers should enter into discussions with staff about why holidays need to be taken. Employers may also insist staff take their bank holidays during furlough. 

The Working Time Regulation 1998

Under reg 15 of the Working Time Regulation 1998, the employer does have the discretion to nominate dates on which some or all of the statutory annual holidays should be taken by giving twice as much notice, i.e. if the employer wants an employee to take 1 week holiday, the employee must be given 2 weeks notice. 

For those who have already pre-booked holidays, the employer may insist that the employee continue to take them and not cancel the days. 

It is important to note that any annual leave taken must be paid at 100%. Employers can use furlough payment (80%) but it must be topped up to equate to 100%.

If the full holiday entitlement has not been taken at the end of the holiday year, employers should discuss with their staff the roll over process and how it will be managed over the next following 2 years. 

This is a very stressful time for all, it is wise for both parties, employer and employees to be flexible and to come to an amicable agreement. 

Managing holidays during the current crisis is complicated and riddled with risk; we recommend you contact the advice line for further guidance on 01455 852028.

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