How does the Coronavirus Act 2020 affect annual leave?
The government has introduced an amendment to Regulation 13 of the Working Time Regulations 1998 to allow employees to carry over four weeks of holiday into the next two leave years.
This amendment will be applicable where it is not reasonably practicable for employees to take some, or all, of the holiday they are entitled to during the coronavirus outbreak.
This represents a change from the current position under Regulation 13(9), where the four weeks of leave has to be taken in that leave year (subject to the employment contract).
Why were these changes being introduced?
This reflects a concern from employers that they will be faced with situations where their employees will seek to take most of their annual leave entitlement towards the end of the leave year. Employees are also worried that they may lose out on annual leave if they’re unable to take all of their entitlement before the end of the leave year.
Being able to carry over four weeks of holiday into the next two years will reassure employees, particularly those in key industries, that they will not lose out whilst they are working tirelessly to help deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
If an employee’s annual leave has been carried over, can I put restrictions on when they’re able to take it or cancel employee’s annual leave?
Under the new regulations, an employer will only be able to request that an employee does not to take their carried-over leave on particular days if they have ‘good reason’ to do so. However, there is currently no definition of what may be classed as an acceptable ‘good reason’ for this purpose.
Can I refuse or cancel an employee’s annual leave request?
The same position of requiring a ‘good reason’ applies in respect of refusing or cancelling annual leave, In any instance, when cancelling/refusing annual leave, as many days’ notice has to be given as to the period of holiday to which the notice relates.
The team here is monitoring the situation carefully and will provide updates as soon as more detail is known. In the meantime do not hesitate to contact a member of your local employment team.
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