Annual leave and Covid-19

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Employees continue to accrue annual leave as usual, in line with their contract of employment whilst on furlough leave.  There is a requirement to pay this holiday leave including bank holidays at the employee’s normal rate when on furlough leave.  Employers can claim the holiday rate back under the furlough scheme.

Annual leave and Furlough

Employees could now be on furlough leave until the end of October and will have a lot of accrued holiday they need to utilise by the end of the year.  To accommodate this, the Government passed emergency legislation to amend the Working Time Regulations which allows employees to carry over four weeks into the next two holiday leave years where it is not possible for employees to take the holidays this year.  In usual circumstances employees may have lost these holidays.  This legislation is there for all employees, part time employees and not limited to key workers.

As an employer if you do allow carry over holidays, it is important that this is well documented and communicated to all staff. In 2021, there will be two holiday entitlements to manage and any carryover will not affect next year’s holiday entitlement.   Employers are unable to pay staff in lieu their statutory holiday, as under the Working Time Regulations they must be allowed to take the holiday leave.  It would be possible to pay staff in lieu of holiday entitlement above the statutory minimum if the staff are agreeable.

Enforcing Annual Leave and Furlough 

Employers are able to request employees use up their annual leave if they are provided with the correct notice.  The notice required is always twice the length of the requested holiday.  This method of holiday management can be useful to ensure holiday does not get out of hand whilst staff are on furlough.  The Government guidance on insisting employees take holiday at a certain time is as follows,

“if an employer requires a worker to take holiday while on furlough, the employer should consider whether any restrictions the worker is under, such as the need to socially distance or self-isolate, would prevent the worker from resting, relaxing and enjoying leisure time, which is the fundamental purpose of holiday.”

Self- Isolation after Travel Abroad

Contracts of employment are silent and do not account for self-isolation following travelling abroad.  Current proposals are that from the 8th June 2020 individuals will be required to self-isolate for 14 days following travel back from abroad.  At present, there is no guidance to suggest that this leave allows for a statutory sick entitlement during this period.   This is pending another review in the next few weeks and it may be that the relevant regulations will be updated to include this.  Currently the quarantine period will need to be taken as unpaid leave, further holiday leave or working from home.

This could be very disruptive to business operations if individuals are taking holidays abroad and potentially needing to take 14 days out of the business as a result.

Further advice

If you would like to discuss any aspect of this article, please get in touch with our Employment Law Solicitor Sasha Brine by calling 07475069698