The Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR) give workers 5.6 weeks of annual leave in each leave year. This equates to 28 days, including public holidays for full time employees.
As a result of Covid, the Government has amended the WTR to allow employees who have been prevented from taking their basic 4 week annual leave entitlement to carry over that leave for up to two years. Where it is not reasonably practicable for employees to take their full entitlement in 2020, they will be able to defer their remaining leave to next year.
The additional leave of 1.6 weeks (8 days of public holidays) must still, however, be taken in the current holiday year.
The regulations also make it clear however that the employer can only defer the employee’s request to take annual leave where it has ‘good reason’ to do so. While a rush in demand for leave towards the end of the year may well satisfy this requirement, the employer should make every effort to accommodate requests for leave where possible.
We’re seeing a number of different approaches being taken - according to industry, sector or specific business needs. However, maingenerally, the common themes are:
- Encouraging employees to take regular annual leave through the COVID pandemic – both for individual wellbeing purposes, but also for business reasons (not storing up disproportionate holiday entitlements for later in the year or for a later date when businesses are operating closer to ‘normal/the new normal’).
- Allowing employees to ‘carry-over’ more annual leave days than is usual – ranging from 5-15 days in the following ‘annual leave year’ (10 would appear the most common approach).
- Consideration as to whether to introduce/amend holiday purchase/selling schemes.
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