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Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for employers and employees – Using holiday

14 Apr 2020

In most situations, employees and workers should use their paid holiday (‘statutory annual leave’) in their current leave year. This is 5.6 weeks in the UK.

This is important because taking holiday helps people:

  • get enough rest
  • keep healthy (physically and mentally)

If an employee or worker is temporarily sent home because there’s no work and the employer intends to claim for their wages under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ('furloughed'), they can still request and take their holiday in the usual way. This includes bank holidays.

Employees and workers must get their usual pay in full, for any holidays they take.

Carrying over holiday

During the coronavirus outbreak, it may not be possible for staff to take all their holiday entitlement during the current holiday year.

Employers should still be encouraging workers and employees to take their paid holiday. Employees and workers should also make requests for paid holiday throughout their holiday year, if possible.

The government has introduced a temporary new law allowing employees and workers to carry over up to 4 weeks’ paid holiday over a 2-year period. This law applies for any holiday the employee does not take because of coronavirus, for example if:

  • they’re self-isolating or too sick to take holiday before the end of their leave year
  • they’ve had to continue working and could not take paid holiday

The employee may also need to carry over holiday if they’ve been 'furloughed' and they cannot take paid holiday because of coronavirus.

Some employers will already have an agreement to carry over paid holiday. This law does not affect any agreements already in place.

If an employee or worker leaves their job or is dismissed during the 2-year period, any untaken paid holiday must be added to their final pay ('paid in lieu').

Bank holidays

Bank holidays are usually part of the legal minimum 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday. Employees and workers must get their usual pay in full for bank holidays.

Employees and workers may still be required to use a day’s paid holiday for bank holidays, including when they’re furloughed. If bank holidays are given on top of the 5.6 week’s paid holiday, employees and workers should check their contract or talk to their employer about taking this holiday.

If employees and workers usually work on bank holidays but are currently furloughed, they should check with their employer to see if they have to take holiday on that day or if they can take the time off at a later date.

If employees and workers cannot take bank holidays off due to coronavirus, they should use the holiday at a later date in their leave year.

If this is not possible, bank holidays can be included in the 4 weeks’ paid holiday that can be carried over. This holiday can be taken at any time over a 2-year period.

Agreeing how extra holiday is carried over

If employers do not already have an agreement in place, they can decide whether they’ll allow extra holiday (more than the 4 weeks’ paid holiday) to be carried over.

Extra holiday may include:

  • the remaining 1.6 weeks of statutory annual leave
  • holiday that’s more than the legal minimum

Employees and workers should check their employment contract or talk to their employer to find out what they’re entitled to.

Further information:

https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus/using-holiday?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=furlough%20templates&utm_content=furlough%20templates+CID_7eec4aac077ec67a5a5d0eceb6567710&utm_source=Acas%20National%20Email%20Marketing%20Live&utm_term=Using%20holiday