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Change to holiday rules due to the pandemic

Almost all workers, including zero-hour contracted workers and those on irregular hour’s contracts, are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday per year. The exception is those who are genuinely self-employed. Normally employees must take the leave within the year and cannot carry forward leave or have this paid instead of time off.

However under certain circumstances employers must allow the leave to be carried into future leave years. (Up to 4 weeks).

These circumstances include where a worker cannot take annual leave due to them being on maternity leave or sick. These rights have also been extended to cover employees unable to take leave due to the COVID pandemic. Please note that employees can take holiday whilst furloughed.

Employers should do everything reasonably practicable to ensure that the worker is able to take as much of their leave as possible in the year to which it relates, and where leave is carried forward, it is best practice to give workers the opportunity to take holiday at the earliest practicable opportunity.

Please contact your funding body to discuss why your employee has been unable to take their leave, as they will need to agree for the funds to cover the holiday to be moved forward into the next leave year.

Employees do not have the right to have this leave paid instead of taking the time off, and therefore you should arrange with your employees for them to book leave as early as practically possible.

Handling leave that has been carried forward

When a worker carries leave forwards due to the coronavirus, (up to a maximum of 4 weeks) they will continue to accrue holiday in the next leave year. As such, they will have 2 entitlements:

  • the holiday that has been carried forward that must be taken in the next 2 leave years
  • the entitlement that relates to the new leave year

For more information on employees annual leave please take a look at the below links.

https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus/using-holiday

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/rules-on-carrying-over-annual-leave-to-be-relaxed-to-support-key-industries-during-covid-19

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