HOLIDAYS - 03.06.2020

Compelling workers to take holiday

Workers accrue holiday during furlough and some holiday rights can now be carried over for up to two years. Can you compel staff to take accrued holiday during furlough?

Annual leave. The furlough scheme has now been extended to 31 October 2020 . Where a worker is furloughed, they retain all statutory employment rights and continue to accrue holiday. Workers who can’t take holiday due to the coronavirus outbreak have also been given the temporary right to carry over their four weeks’ statutory holiday that’s granted under the Working Time Directive for up to two years. We looked at this in a previous article ( yr.22, iss.9, pg.1 , see The next step ).

Go on holiday. Together, this could create several practical issues for employers. For example, assuming furlough ends in October, you may have several staff trying to take all of their accrued annual holiday in a short space of time. Alternatively, you could have staff who have several additional weeks’ holiday in forthcoming years. Rather than tackle issues as and when they arise, can you compel staff to take annual leave, thus reducing their accrued holiday and remove the carry-over risk?

It’s been confirmed. The government has now updated its guidance and confirmed that employers can require furloughed staff to take holiday provided they give them the correct notice (see The next step ). You must first consider whether any restrictions would prevent the worker from resting, relaxing and enjoying leisure time, which is the fundamental purpose of holiday, e.g. an employee who has to self-isolate could not really enjoy a holiday.

Tip. Assuming this isn’t an issue, your notice must be twice the length of the holiday that you want the worker to take, e.g. for two weeks’ holiday you would need to give four weeks’ notice of those dates. This notice to take holiday should be in writing and you must pay the employee their full rate of holiday pay, not 80% furlough pay (see The next step ).

Providing a worker can rest, relax and enjoy leisure time, you can compel them to take holiday during furlough. Your notice must be twice the length of the holiday you wish them to take and they are entitled to receive 100% pay.

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