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Managing annual Leave in times of COVID-19

Posted On: 02/06/2020

Managing Holidays as a Result of COVID-19 

We understand that there are a lot of questions surrounding holidays during the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope the below will give you some thoughts and suggestions as to how you can manage holidays  in your organisation during this time.   

Employers Requesting Employees to Take Holidays at Defined Times 

Employers can require employees to take leave or not take leave on particular days, so that business can be managed effectively and efficiently. For example, it is not uncommon for factory workers to be required to take part of their holiday entitlement during the summer factory shutdown, or for employees in the hotel and catering industry to take at least some of their holiday entitlement in the off-peak season. 

Remember, to enforce a period of holiday, the employer must give the employee notice that is equal to twice the length of the holiday that it wishes the employee to take. For example, if the employer requires the employee to take one week's annual leave, they must give the employee at least two weeks' advance notice. 


Holidays and Employees on furlough  

Whilst on furlough the employee continues to accrue holiday as normal. Depending on the length of furlough and you holiday leave year, this may mean that the employee has the majority of their entitlement to take in just half of the normal holiday year. This is likely to be problematic from an operational perspective. So it is prudent to look at options to reduce the holiday liability on return to work. Remember to always apply the relevant notice period when requesting staff to take leave (see above) 


Holidays and Employees who are still working (whether from home or the workplace) 

Whilst staff are still working it is important that they still take the holiday entitlement wherever possible. In times of crisis we can work at a different pace, with different pressures, working in different ways Continuing to work through without a break because the work ‘just has to be done’ will only result in burn out, sickness and/or errors at work.  


Employees Requesting Leave 

In the absence of any arrangement or agreement to the contrary, employees must give notice equal to twice the length of the holiday they wish to take. For example, an employee wishing to take a week's holiday must give the employer at least two weeks' advance notice of the date on which they intend that holiday to begin. 


Employees Cancelling holidays 

If an employee’s holidays have been affected as a result of COVID-19 they may want to cancel periods of annual leave so that these days can be taken later in the year. Employers do not have to agree to this (unless there is a right under the contract of employment).  


Employers Cancelling Holidays 

An employer can cancel an employee's period of annual leave if it gives the required notice under the Working Time Regulations 1998. If the employer requires a period of leave to be cancelled the notice given should be at least the same length as the period of leave which is being cancelled. e.g. if the employee has booked five days holiday, the employer must give five working days’ notice of cancellation. The employer needs to ensure that it has a clear business reason for cancelling annual leave.  


Carrying Forward Holidays 

Carrying over leave from one leave year to the next is not normally permitted under the Working Time Regulations 1998 in relation to the four-week statutory minimum entitlement. The Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, which was introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, came into force on 26 March 2020. The 2020 Regulations amend the Working Time Regulations 1998 to allow workers to carry forward up to four weeks' annual leave (i.e. the statutory minimum entitlement) into the next two holiday years, if it was not reasonably practicable for them to take holiday due to the effects of coronavirus. (i.e. where the volume of work/lack of resources would not allow time off work – it does not mean where staff wouldn’t take holidays because they couldn’t travel somewhere!) 

An employer can require a worker not to take the leave on particular days but only where the employer has good reason to do so.  


Holiday Pay and Pay for Days Not Taken 

Any day of holiday taken by the employee must be paid at 100% of their normal pay 

Whilst there are a number of options in this guide to ensure that employees take their entitlement of time away from work (holiday leave), there may of course be occasion when an employer or employee are seeking a further option if time off work cannot be taken.   


Holiday Policy 

Employers may need to make temporary changes to their policies as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. 



Remember, in the event of termination of employment, all accrued but untaken annual leave must be taken during the notice period or paid for as a payment in lieu with final pay.  

Please talk to us about annual leave in relation to maternity leave or long-term absence as these issues are typically more complicated.  

Please ask us for a temporary amendment to policy if you need one.  

Call us on 0161 941 2426 with any questions or indeed let us know if you are doing something that is working really well!

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What Our Clients Say

“TerryberryReward have enjoyed a long and developing relationship with P3PM who are now an integral and valued business partner. P3PM keep us aware and aligned to the ever-changing regulatory aspects of HR, but also understand our requirement for pragmatic day to day support. The online MyHR system has been a boon, allowing colleagues easy self-management of previously convoluted paper-based tasks. ”

P Calnan - Managing Director

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