A lot of people will have ignored annual leave in favour of working. Work became, for some, a welcome distraction from the monotony of pandemic life.
Well, if you find you’ve got spare annual leave days, we have some great news for you.
The COVID pandemic has affected almost every aspect of our work life. Things have changed dramatically over the last year – Whether you’ve been made redundant, furloughed, or made to work from home, things are different.
Being able to take days off but unable to book holidays has been a drain on morale, but there is a glimmer of hope: You may be able to carry over your annual leave.
To most people, the idea of spending those precious annual leave days on a holiday in the UK after a year of restrictions sounds boring at best, and downright insulting at worst. For those furloughed, or those working at home – there is probably nothing worse than the thought of spending your holidays at home.
As an act of pragmatism and compassion, the government has allowed employees to carry over annual leave for two years. In a recent press release, the government has outlined how you will be able to carry over annual leave – but first…
What is Regular Annual Leave?
Most workers in the UK are entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid annual leave. Workers that have full/part-time contracts, zero-hour contracts, irregular hours and temp workers – Those who are fully self-employed are the exception.
You start to accrue annual leave immediately, but how many days you are entitled to depends on how many hours you have worked. Your entitlement also depends on any additional arrangements made by your employer – These arrangements should be outlined in your employee handbook.
People who work 5 days a week are entitled to a total of 28 days paid leave.
Other forms of annual leave are:
- Emergency Leave
- Compassionate Leave
- Maternity Leave
- Paternity Leave
- Shared Parental Leave
This means that even while you’re on paid leave you are still accruing days off.
What’s the Time Frame?
People planning to stack up their vacation until they can take a nice long sabbatical will be sorely disappointed. The current timeframe ends in March 2022.
Nothing is certain. With regulations and rules in a constant state of flux, it is wise to prepare for an extension of this time frame.
What’s The Point of Carrying Over Annual Leave?
The pandemic gave us many opportunities to reconsider the way we work and do business. The goal of allowing carry-over of annual leave is to allow businesses to recover from the pandemic, while protecting employee rights.
It means that the businesses who need to work extra hard to recover from the lockdowns do not go unrewarded. It also means that the services necessary to ordinary life do not falter.
What Leave Days Does This Apply To?
This applies to statutory paid annual leave.
It’s quite possible that you are entitled to more than the statutory annual leave; However, those statutory days are the only ones guaranteed to carry over by law. So, unless your boss says otherwise, you cannot carry over more than the 28 paid leave days.
You may also need to check whether your statutory days off include bank holidays. If they do, that further limits the days you can carry over.
What About Employers?
Under regular circumstances, it is a legal requirement for employers to ensure staff use their leave; However, in these special circumstances, that legal requirement has been waived.
It is important as an employer to be aware of the rights and responsibilities. So, when preparing an employee contract, make sure to answer the following:
- When can’t they take holidays?
- When is it necessary? I.e. Lockdown
- Do you include national holidays?
- How many consecutive days can someone take off before needing permission?
- What’s the notice period of requesting leave?
- Can someone take unpaid holiday leave?
- Can someone deny holiday requests?
- If someone works on a holiday, will they be paid extra?
While this may not console those who lost work due to the pandemic – or those whose mental health may have suffered due to furlough or distancing – it should come as a small relief to those whose have worked tirelessly and thanklessly this last year and are in desperate need of a long break.
If you are an employer, you will likely experience an influx of leave requests. If you need help managing all your leave requests or absences, or simply want to learn more – Get in touch. You can contact us via our online form, or by phone on 0330 400 5490.