COVID-19 Employment Law Developments – Employees Allowed To Carry Over Holiday Where It Has Not Been Taken Because of the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Working Time Regulations have been amended to relax the restriction on carrying over untaken holiday into the next holiday year where leave has not been taken due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The untaken holiday can be carried over into the next two holiday years.

Employees enjoy 5.6 weeks holiday per year (pro-rata for part-time employees), which is made up of the basic 4 week holiday entitlement, and an additional 1.6 weeks.

In situations where it was ‘not reasonably practicable’ for a worker to take some or all of their basic 4 week holiday entitlement in the holiday year as a result of the effects of COVID-19, including effects on the worker, the employer or the wider economy or society, the worker shall be entitled to carry forward such untaken holiday.  The carried-forward holiday may be taken in the two holiday years immediately following the holiday year in respect of which it was due.

In addition, the Working Time Regulations have been amended so the calculation of a payment in lieu of holiday where the worker’s employment has terminated, to ensure that the worker can receive a payment in lieu if employment terminates before the worker has taken the carried-over holiday.

The amendments also introduce a restriction on an employer’s right to refuse leave on particular days. An employer may require a worker not to take leave on particular days by giving the worker notice provided certain formalities are met.  Now an employer will only be able to require a worker not to take carried-over holiday on particular days where the employer has ‘good reason’ to do so.  There is no explanation or definition of a ‘good reason’ for this purpose.