Managing Holiday Entitlement During COVID

Managing Holiday Entitlement During COVID


Under normal circumstances Employees should use their paid statutory holiday entitlement in the current leave year. The statutory entitlement id 28 days (5.6 weeks) for a full time Employee. Employers can offer more than the statutory entitlement; this would then be a non-contractual entitlement and should be reflected in the Employees Employment Contract.


What happens to holidays during Coronavirus?

We are facing difficult times and as such many Employers have not perhaps taken or resolved holiday entitlement with their Employees, it is important that Employers and Employees are as flexible as they can about holiday during the coronavirus pandemic.

It is suggested that as an Employer as a minimum you:

  • Discuss plans to use or cancel holiday during coronavirus as soon as possible.
  • Discuss why holiday might need to be taken or cancelled, this may be due to lockdown restrictions.
  • Listen to any concerns, from your Employees
  • Be open, honest, suggest and welcome ideas for other options
  • Consider your Employees physical and mental wellbeing, your Employees may be tired, stressed and or anxious.
  • Take into account any personal reasons.


What happens with Furloughed Employees?

If you cannot provide work for your Employee or you are using Furlough due to another valid reason, you can Furlough your Employee by placing them on the Furlough Scheme temporarily, you or the Employee can then:

Request to take holiday in the usual manner, this must be mutually agreed or in the case of the Employer requesting holiday to be taken you must, provide the required statutory notice period to do so.

For example:

If you decide to do this, you must inform your Employee at least twice as many days before the number of days you need the Employee to take. If you are closing for 5 days, you must provide a notice period 10 days before as a minimum.

Employees who are Furloughed must get their usual pay in full, for any holiday they take.

Employers cannot, however, provide notice to take holidays to Employees who are on:

  • Sick leave
  • Maternity Leave, or any other type of family leave.



Can I request all Employees take holidays?

Employers may need to close their business for a week and enforce all Employees to use their holiday entitlement. Similarly, Employers could provide notice to individual Employees dependant on some other circumstances.

So long as the Employer has provided the relevant notice period as set out in legislation and in writing to the Employee.



Can Employers cancel pre-booked holidays?

As an Employer you can also cancel pre-booked paid holiday. If you decide to do this, you must provide Employees at least the same number of days’ notice as the original holiday request.

For example, if an Employee has booked 5 days holiday, you must provide them with notice at least 5 days before the holiday starts that it is cancelled.

This could impact holiday Employees have already booked or planned, as an Employer you should:

  • Provide an explanation why you need to cancel their holidays.
  • Resolve concerns or worries about how it will impact holiday entitlement or plans.



Can my Employees cancel previously booked holidays?

As an Employer you may have Employees request to cancel their holidays as their holidays have been cancelled due to flights, hotels and other arrangements being cancelled or postponed.


In these circumstances you are not obliged legally to do so and can insist your Employee takes the time, it is wise to ensure you reach an agreement in this circumstance. Should you agree to the change as an Employer you should ensure you obtain consent from your Employee in writing.



Can my Employees carry over holiday Entitlement?

The past 12 months have been extremely difficult for businesses due to the Coronavirus and for this reason it may not be possible for Employees to take all their holiday entitlement during the current holiday year.

Managing your Employees holidays is still important, and you should be encouraging them to take paid leave, you should ensure you utilise the same system you have in place to do so throughout the current year, where possible.

During the Coronavirus Pandemic it became apparent that holiday entitlement for many businesses and Employees was proving to be an issue, bearing this in mind the government has introduced a new law, this affords Employees to carry over up to 4 weeks’ paid holiday into their next 2 holiday leave years, the outstanding 1.6 weeks cannot be carried over.


This new law applies for any holiday an Employee does not take because of coronavirus, for example if:


  • Self-isolating or too sick to take holiday before the end of the leave year.
  • The Employee has had to continue working and could not take paid holiday.
  • They have been in shielding and could not take paid holiday.



An Employee may be able to carry over holiday if you have Furloughed them and cannot reasonably use it in their holiday year, this would be an exception as you can still offer paid holiday during any period of Furloughed leave.

Employers should ensure agreements are in place to reflect the new legislation and these are issued

Any carried over leave must be added to Employees final pay, as payment in lieu, this would be any untaken accrued or carried over holidays where an Employee leaves or where employment is terminated.



What happens with Bank holidays?

Bank holidays are usually part of the statutory legal minimum 5.6 weeks’ paid an Employers you can still require employees to take paid holiday on a bank holiday, this excludes Employees who are off sick.

To do so you must provide your Employees the relevant notice period. Your Employees can also request to take a day’s paid holiday on a bank holiday.

If you consent, Employees are entitled to receive payment in full, or any enhanced payment in line with non-contractual agreements.


Employers can refer Employees where they are not sure if bank holidays need to be taken as paid holiday, Employees should:

  • Refer to their Employment Contract.
  • Speak to you directly.


Where bank holidays cannot be taken off due to coronavirus, Employees should use the holiday later in the leave year. Where this is possible, bank holidays can then be included in the 4 weeks’ paid holiday and be carried over, any such holiday can be taken at any time over the next 2 holiday leave years.



How can I agree how extra holiday is carried over?

As an Employer you should have an agreement in place, this should clearly outline what the expectations are and how, what can be carried over, more than the 4 weeks’ paid holiday.

Extra holiday may include:

  • The remaining 1.6 weeks of statutory annual leave.
  • Any holiday that is more than the statutory legal minimum, this may be non-contractual entitlement.


Employers should seek professional advice when drafting agreements and to ensure they align with any Employment Contract.



Who can help before reaching an agreement?

Employers should obtain our professional Employment Law advice when drafting agreements and to ensure they align with any Employment Contract.

All agreements should be in writing, with consent obtained.

We are here to provide full support, guidance and offer you agreements fully drafted, we can advise in any HR or Employment Law matter, our team can advise you today.

January 2021


Fran Crossland





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