Workers will be able to carry over annual leave for two years

Workers who have not taken all of their statutory annual leave entitlement this year due to the coronavirus will be able to carry it over into the next two leave years, the government has announced.

The Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 will amend the Working Time Regulations 1998 to create an exemption relating specifically to the coronavirus outbreak.

Business secretary Alok Sharma said: “Whether it is in our hospitals, or our supermarkets, people are working around the clock to help our country deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

“Today’s changes will mean these valued employees do not lose out on the annual leave they are entitled to as a result of their efforts, and employers are not penalised.”

Currently, most workers are entitled to 28 days holiday, including bank holidays each year. Although some companies allow employees to ‘buy’ and ‘sell’ holiday to either add to their entitlement or receive pay instead, most will lose holiday if they do not take it.

There is also an obligation on employers to ensure that workers take their statutory entitlement in any one year as failure to do so could result in a financial penalty.

The changes mean employees can carry up to four weeks of unused leave into the next two leave years “where it is not reasonably practicable for a worker to take some, or all, of the holiday to which they are entitled due to the coronavirus”, the government said.

The working time regulations apply to almost all workers including agency workers, hourly-paid workers and those on zero-hours contracts.

Environment secretary George Eustice said that relaxing rules on statutory leave would ensure that key workers could continue their important work during the pandemic crisis without concerns about losing time off.

“From our fields to our supermarkets, we are hugely grateful to the many people working around the clock to keep the nation fed,” he said.

“We welcome the measures the food industry is already taking to keep shelves stocked and supply chains resilient, and will continue to support them with their response to coronavirus.”

The government stressed that employers were under an obligation to ensure that workers have adequate opportunity to take their holiday, and that it should not be replaced with pay in lieu unless the worker is leaving employment.

8 Responses to Workers will be able to carry over annual leave for two years

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    Jane 28 Mar 2020 at 10:58 am #

    If we are not a corona virus critical role and people are working from home can we still insist people take their time off in this holiday year, even though they may not get the trip they intended. It will just be a break from work?

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      Donald 31 Mar 2020 at 9:45 am #

      How would that be any different to how it was before? I would say the answer to your question is “No” because applying a blanket policy like that puts the employer at risk. An employee may argue that it wasn’t practical to make holiday plans due to the virus (See regulation wording)

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    Samuel Durnford 28 Mar 2020 at 9:13 pm #

    If I have holiday left to take in this current tax year does this mean that I can carry it over in to the new tax year starting 6th April?

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    SineAd 29 Mar 2020 at 10:26 am #

    Is there any obligation on employers who have staff working from home who cannot have a holiday but remain hooked into work. Would there be any issue with employers asking staff to take leave they’ve booked ie over Easter? Would they be permitted to cancel this leave and carry forward?

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    Tony Murphy 29 Mar 2020 at 11:55 am #

    Very helpful information well done clearly presented, what information do you know of about employers making employee,s taking their holiday entitlement as a wage during furlough wage payments

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    Karen Cartwright 1 Apr 2020 at 10:00 am #

    What happens to bank holidays under furlough? Should they ‘roll up’ to be taken later, or are they effectively used up at the time (e.g Easter) because the employee is already off work anyway?

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    Maxine 20 Apr 2020 at 2:38 pm #

    I am a civil servant and have been told I can only carry over 10 days leave into next year which means I have five days to take before end of June – however I dont want to – they say I have to or lose it – I am working full time at home currently

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    Mrs B 30 Apr 2020 at 5:33 pm #

    I’m a key worker so my employer will allow me to carry leave over. My husband’s employer have stated that they will not allow him to do this. It’s frustrating that the Government have not made this provision compulsory. When the time comes that we can take holidays again, we want to travel together, but that won’t be possible if he’s forced to use his annual leave to sit at home while I work 🙁

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