COVID-19 update: rules on carrying over annual leave relaxed (… up to 4weeks)

Workers who have not taken all of their statutory annual leave entitlement due to COVID-19 will now be able to carry it over into the next 2 years leave, in the latest measures announced by the Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, last Friday (27 March 2020).

The Government have announced that these changes are to ensure that key workers can continue their work during the pandemic without concerns about losing time off.

These measures are set to be introduced for the forthcoming (currently unpublished) Working Time (Coronavirus)(Amendment) Regulations 2020. These amend Regulation 13 of the Working Time Regulations 1998, introducing an exemption specifically related to COVID-19.

Who does this apply to?

Employees and almost all workers (including agency workers and workers on zero-hour contracts)

How much leave can be carried over?

Up to 4 weeks of unused leave can be carried over into the next two leave years. 

The additional balance of 1.6 weeks’ statutory leave (currently) remains unaffected, though this can be carried over for up to a year by agreement under existing law.

When can leave be carried over?

Where it is not reasonably practicable for employees to take some, or all, of the holiday they are entitled to due to COVID-19.

What does this mean for you?

With a stark rise in the number of confirmed domestic cases of COVID-19 and the unprecedented resulting economic downturn, the number of employees in the workforce affected by COVID-19 are increasing.

It is important to stay up to date with legislative changes to be prepared for any queries raised by employees regarding their entitlements and to ensure you adopt the right approach.

Employers are obliged to ensure that an employee takes their statutory holiday entitlement across the year, and this regulatory change reduces the pressure on employers to comply, during this uncertain period of time, particularly given the need to ensure there are sufficient staff to cover workloads.

Understanding this change alongside the other effects of COVID-19 (which are still unfolding), will enable you to better manage your workforce. It is important to ensure that you protect your staff from losing their annual leave entitlement, as this could cause hostility and a lack of morale in the workplace, whilst the national efforet against COVID-19 continues.

Support for employers?

COVID-19 is dominating the news and this change is the latest, in a number of recent measures taken by the Government, to eas the effects of COVID-19 on businesses. We anticipate a number of other changes to come into force over the next week so do keep an eye out, as our team will be posting regular updates.

If you require further assistance, support or advice, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced employment team for hands-on, prompt advice.

For our previous COVID-19 updates: