Holiday Planning during Covid
With continuing restrictions in place with international travel, employees have not been taking as much annual leave as in previous years. Under the Working Time Regulations, workers are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks’ holiday a year (which can include bank and public holidays).
In response to the coronavirus crisis, the Central Government announced that workers will be able to carry over up to four weeks of their statutory annual leave entitlement into the next two leave years where it “was not reasonably practicable for a worker to take some of all of the leave” to which they are entitled to due to the “effects of the coronavirus (including on the worker, the employer or on the wider economy and society)”.
Because the change has been made as an amendment to the Working Time Regulations, it affects every employer.
Not all holiday can be carried over and the changes do not apply to Bank Holidays or additional contractual holidays given by some employers.
Employees can take holiday while on furlough without breaking furlough. Bank Holidays, and holidays that employees have already booked for the furlough period, do not have to be cancelled. Employers are not obliged to offer any days in lieu of this holiday.
From an industrial relations point of view, it might be better to seek agreement from employees to use up some of their holiday.
Even if you've got agreement with your employees not to top up the 80% of pay available under the furlough scheme, you'll still be topping up for any days your employees take as holiday. For employees who are concerned about their reduced income, they'll be better off taking holiday and may see it as an incentive for them to agree to your request. This issue however is likely to become more pronounced the longer you take to decide on a strategy for dealing with it.
So it's a worthwhile activity planning the next steps for employee's 2020 holiday entitlement .