How to deal with the holiday entitlement of an employee taking maternity leave

The question as to how to deal with the holiday entitlement of a woman taking maternity leave is not always straightforward. Below, we provide you with some of the key points covering holiday and maternity which will help to answer your questions:

  • Recognise that annual leave rights are in addition to maternity leave and that maternity leave cannot be treated as annual leave.
  • Be aware that you cannot pay employees in lieu of their statutory annual leave entitlement except on termination of the employment.
  • Be aware that you have more freedom to deal with contractual annual leave in excess of the minimum statutory entitlement, with regard to, for example, paying in lieu.
  • Ensure that employees do not lose out on their holiday entitlement if their maternity leave coincides with the workplace annual shutdown.
  • Remember that statutory annual leave under the Working Time Regulations 1998 accrues during both ordinary maternity leave and additional maternity leave.
  • Take into account that employees are entitled to the benefit of all their non-remuneration terms and conditions throughout additional maternity leave as well as ordinary maternity leave. This includes accrual of contractual holiday above the statutory minimum.
  • Consider the allocation of annual leave as part of planning for maternity absences.
  • Although the law is unclear on the subject of carry-over of statutory holiday from one year to the next where an employee on maternity leave has been unable to take it in the leave year in which it falls due, take into account that good practice and least legal risk would point towards allowing carry-over in these circumstances.

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