COVID19 – How to manage employee holidays.

COVID19 – How to manage employee holidays.


Balancing the annual leave of the workforce with operational needs can sometimes be problematic at the best of times, so in these unprecedented circumstances, navigating our way around holiday leave seems even more challenging. Here we take a look at Employment Law and the latest guidance from the Government to answer your holiday leave questions.



An employee has asked to cancel pre-booked holidays that fall in the lockdown period, can I refuse this request?


Unless there are specific terms in the contract or policies in the handbook, the employer can refuse an employee’s request to cancel a holiday. While understandably employees may not want to take holidays during a lockdown period, perhaps where their travel plans have been cancelled, taking a break from their home working should still be encouraged to avoid the same burnout that can happen in the office.



As an employer, can I cancel my employees’ annual leave if I need them to continue working?


Yes, you are able to do this providing that you give double the amount of notice to cancel the holiday. For example, if the employee has 2 days booked off, you would need to give them 4 days’ notice that this will be cancelled.



Can employees carry over any unused holiday entitlement?


The legislation normally does not permit employees to carry over statutory holiday entitlement into the following holiday year, as its purpose is to ensure employees get adequate rest breaks from work.  However, on 27th March, the Government introduced emergency regulations to support key sectors such as healthcare and food by ensuring that they are not left short-staffed by employees taking their entitlement during this time. Therefore, employees who are not able to take leave due to having to continue to work, are permitted to carry over their statutory leave into the next 2 holiday years.




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Can employees on furlough take annual leave?


Yes – current guidance from ACAS suggests that employees who are furloughed can still take annual leave. However, whilst the government guidance on this isn’t yet perfectly clear – we would suggest that this applies only to pre-booked holidays and/or bank holidays and that employees don’t try to force employees to take the rest of their annual leave during this period, until we have further updates.



What do I pay furloughed employees for holiday pay?


Employees using their leave during the furlough period are entitled to receive their ‘normal holiday pay’. So, even where an employee is currently only receiving 80% of their normal salary while furloughed, you will need to pay them their holiday pay at their normal rate



Does holiday leave break the furlough period?


No – employees are able to take leave without this breaking the continuous period of furlough.



A note of caution…


It’s important that we point out that the above is our understanding of the current ACAS guidance and Government announcements, however, until we receive firm clarity from the Government about the specific rules relating to this, we would advise exercising caution when it comes to holiday leave.



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