What you need to know about holiday entitlement and pay during lockdown

Can employers require workers to take holiday during lockdown? And do furloughed workers still accrue holiday? Alan Price of BrightHR explains what employers need to know about annual leave and pay during lockdown.

Holiday Pay Entitlement During Lockdown

Can employers require workers to take holiday?

Usually, employers can require their staff to take periods of annual leave as long as they provide at least twice the amount of notice of the time to be taken. For example, if they wish staff to take one week’s leave, they should provide two weeks of notice.

Companies may want to consider taking this action, if business need allows it, for them to avoid having a bottleneck of untaken leave at the end of the year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Furloughed staff can also be made to take holidays, including bank holidays. However, they should be paid in full for the time taken. This means that, while 80 per cent of their wages can still be claimed under the Job Retention Scheme, the employer will need to fund the remaining 20 per cent themselves.

Can employees carry over holiday entitlement?

It should be mentioned that The Working Time Regulations 1998 have recently been amended to allow for four weeks of leave to be carried over into the next two leave years where it was not reasonably practicable for the worker to take leave as a result of coronavirus, including if they have been furloughed.

This now means that all statutory minimum annual leave can be carried over, albeit carrying over the 1.6 weeks of additional leave is still subject to agreement by the employer and can only be carried over into the next leave year. Carry over of any contractual leave above the statutory minimum is subject to agreement between employer and employee.

Can employers cancel workers’ holiday?

Employers also reserve the right to cancel pre-booked periods of leave, such as if the worker has been placed on furlough or is required at work due to demand. In cancelling this leave, they need to provide at least the length of the leave in notice.

However, before taking this option, employers should proceed with care. Staff are not likely to respond well to losing this leave and cancelling it could serve to damage the employment relationship. If the employee loses money as a result of the cancellation, such as from a booked holiday, they may also be able to bring a claim for constructive dismissal.

With travel bans still in place, this is unlikely to be a problem now. However, if lockdown provisions are relaxed as we head through the summer, employees may have pre-booked holidays that could result in money losses.

Can furloughed workers accrue statutory holiday entitlements?

Statutory minimum annual leave entitlement will continue to accrue during a period of furlough. This is because the contract of employment still exists. Employers may want to agree that contractual leave in excess of the statutory minimum does not accrue; however, this may present a blocker to obtaining employees’ agreement to be furloughed.

About the author

Alan Price is a HR expert and CEO at BrightHR, a HR software and support firm offering cloud-based software which records employee absences, responds to annual leave requests, and creates shifts and rotas.

See also

Government announces new carry-over and holiday leave regulations for workers

How essential workers can book Coronavirus (COVID-19) tests

What you need to know about Emergency Volunteer Leave

What does it mean to be furloughed?

Find out more

The Working Time Regulations 1998 (Legislation)

Holiday entitlement (GOV.UK)

Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you need to do (GOV.UK)

Image: Getty Images

Publication date: 20 May 2020

Any opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and the author alone, and does not necessarily represent that of The Gazette.