Do you have questions around the subject of carrying over annual leave during COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic? In this blog we will answer common questions on this important subject.
Firstly, a worker is entitled to 5.6 weeks’ annual leave in each leave year. This is made up of:
- The right under the Working Time Directive (“WTD”) to a minimum of four weeks’ annual leave each year (“WTD Leave”).
- The domestic right to an additional 1.6 weeks’ annual leave each year (“Additional Leave”).
WTD Leave cannot generally be carried between leave years, with exclusions e.g. when a worker cannot take annual leave due to sickness or maternity leave. Additional Leave can be carried forward one leave year subject to an agreement between the worker and the employer.
According to Government guidance published on 27th March 2020, workers who have not taken all of their WTD Leave entitlement due to COVID-19 will now be able to carry it over into the next two leave years. The Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 amends Regulation 13 of the Working Time Regulations 1998 to create a further exemption relating specifically to COVID-19:
“(10) Where in any leave year it was not reasonably practicable for a worker to take some
or all of the leave to which the worker was entitled under this regulation as a result of the
effects of coronavirus (including on the worker, the employer or the wider economy or
society), the worker shall be entitled to carry forward such untaken leave as provided for in
(11) Leave to which paragraph (10) applies may be carried forward and taken in the two
leave years immediately following the leave year in respect of which it was due.”
Regulation 13 of the WTD deals with WTD Leave. The above amendment will not apply to Additional Leave, but as above this can be carried forward one leave year subject to an agreement between the worker and the employer.
These measures were introduced by Business Secretary Alok Sharma, who said:
“Whether it is in our hospitals, or our supermarkets, people are working around the clock to help our country deal with the coronavirus pandemic.”
“Today’s changes will mean these valued employees do not lose out on the annual leave they are entitled to as a result of their efforts, and employers are not *penalised.”
*Ordinarily employers are obliged to make sure that their workers take their statutory holiday leave in any one leave year.
The amendment to Regulation 13 of the WTD is a response to concerns that granting workers holiday leave could spark staff shortages in some of Britain’s key industries, such as food and healthcare however it does not provide that it can only be applied to those who are defined as “key workers” under government guidelines but rather “where it was not reasonably practicable for a worker to take some or all of the leave to which the worker was entitled under this regulation as a result of the effects of coronavirus (including on the worker, the employer or the wider economy or society)”. We expect that for the avoidance of doubt the position on this will be clarified by the government in due course.
Please note that this information is correct as of 27th March 2020 and we anticipate that there may be further guidance in this regard. The information above should be read alongside the Government guidance.
Other useful links to help you keep updated at this time:-
- Acas: Guidance for employers and employees: https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus
- NHS: Health-related guidance: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus–covid–19/
- Public Health Guidance: Public Health England including, E.g. specific guidance for employers, educational and health-related organisations: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/public–health–england
We recommend that you keep up to date with the latest information and current guidance by following the links above. At Consilia Legal we have four qualified Employment solicitors who are available to discuss any queries you may have at this difficult time. Please feel free to contact us on 0113 322 9222 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
30th March 2020