February 23, 2021
Authored by: Lydia Octon-Burke
Lydia Octon-Burke considers the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on annual leave entitlement and carry-over moving into 2021 and practical tips for employers.
At the beginning of another year impacted by COVID-19, many employers have found themselves with employees having large amounts of outstanding annual leave carried over from 2020. Stuck in lockdown once again, employees are increasingly less willing to want to take annual leave, given that COVID-19 is likely to be with us for many months to come. Even if the vaccine programme is successful, it is likely that limits on travel abroad and social interaction will continue for some time.
All workers/employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks’ annual leave in each leave year, which equates to 28 days for someone who works 5 days a week. This is made up of:
Additional leave is more flexible and able to be carried over through direct agreement between employer and employee. As a general rule, however, four weeks’ statutory leave was more restricted and could only be taken in the leave year to which it related (i.e. the “use it or lose it” rule). This was amended last year to allow carry-over when “it was not reasonably practicable for a worker to take some or all of the leave to which the worker was entitled under this regulation as a result of the effects of coronavirus (including on the worker, the employer or the wider economy or society)”.
In practice, the