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Most UK employees are entitled to 5.6 week’s (28 days) paid holiday per year; also known as ‘statutory leave entitlement’. Part time workers are entitled to a pro rata amount of leave.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to escalate around the UK, it may become more difficult for employees to take their statutory annual leave in their current holiday period. As a result, the Government has introduced a temporary new law to combat the annual leave challenges resulting from the Coronavirus crisis.

Under the new law, employees can carry over up to four weeks’ paid holiday leave, that they are unable to take due to Coronavirus, over the next two years. Employees may be unable to take annual leave due to Coronavirus for a number of reasons, including;

  • They are self isolating or too ill to take holiday leave.
  • They have been temporarily sent home as there is no work (‘furloughed’ or ‘laid off’)
  • They are a key worker/have needed to continue working through the outbreak so unable to take holiday leave. 

This new policy is important as it supports key workers to continue working during the pandemic without losing their holiday entitlement. It is also important for employees to receive their statutory annual leave for mental wellbeing and rest. These changes prevent employees from losing their holiday leave during this time when it may not be possible for many people to take time off or have had holidays cancelled etc.

If an employee already had scheduled holiday leave and no longer wishes to take this time off or is unable to (i.e their holiday has been cancelled), employers can still insist they take the holiday leave.

Employers can also request employees take their annual leave during a temporary workplace closure. Therefore if a business needs to close due to Coronavirus, employers can ask employees to use their annual leave entitlement during the shutdown. To do this, employers must inform employees at least twice as many days in advance to the amount of days leave they will ask employees to take. 

Employers can now allow up to four weeks (not the full 28 days) of unused leave to be carried into the next two leave years. The rules say that it must be ‘not reasonably practicable’ for the worker to take some, or all, of the holiday to which they are entitled due to the coronavirus. If so they can carry four weeks forward for two years. The remaining 1.6 weeks of holiday can be carried forward by one year by agreement.

Here’s a link to the full guidance from HMRC

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ETL Global UK

Author ETL Global UK

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