Workers can defer holiday over to the next two years

Employees who have not taken the whole amount of their statutory annual leave entitlement this year will now be able to carry it over for the next two years due to COVID-19 allowing businesses the flexibility to deal with the pressures brought on by the virus more effectively.

The Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 will amend the Working Time Regulations 1998 “to allow workers to carry over their holiday in to the next two leave years, where it is not reasonably practicable for them to take some, or all, of the holiday they are entitled to due to COVID-19,” according to Daniel Barnett, the employment law barrister.

The majority of workers are entitled to 28 days’ annual leave, including bank holidays, with these days mostly not being able to be taken over to the following year. If they are not used, then the days off will be lost, now staff will be able to defer up to four weeks unused holiday to the next two years.

Alok Sharma, the business secretary said:

Whether it is in our hospitals, or our supermarkets, people are working around the clock to help our country deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

Today’s changes will mean these valued employees do not lose out on the annual leave they are entitled to as a result of their efforts, and employers are not penalised.

The Government has made it clear that employers should ensure that their workers be given every chance to take their holiday and not replaced with pay instead unless they are leaving the company.

This applies to almost all workers, such as agency workers, hourly-paid workers and those on zero-hours contracts.

George Eustice, the environment secretary said:

At this crucial time, relaxing laws on statutory leave will help ensure key workers can continue the important work to keep supplies flowing, but without losing the crucial time off they are entitled to.