As we head towards the end of the year thoughts may turn to 2020 holiday entitlements. Many people will have cancelled their holidays in response to the coronavirus pandemic but what does an employer do in this situation?
People should be encouraged to still use any leave they have booked even if travel is not possible; it’s important to take time away from work especially if they have been working from home. People should make requests for paid holiday throughout their holiday year, if possible.
The UK government has recently introduced a new law allowing employees and workers to carry over up to 4 weeks’ paid holiday into their next 2 holiday leave years. 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; or
- they’ve had to continue working and could not take paid holiday.
They may also be able to carry over holiday if they’ve been ‘furloughed’ and cannot reasonably use it in their holiday year.
Although the Channel Islands will not have to follow suit and introduce similar legislation, the options available to employers and employees is something which local businesses should consider.
Some employers will already have an agreement to carry over paid holiday and this law does not affect any agreements already in place. It is important, however, to review your policy around annual leave and make sure it is clear to employees what will happen if they need to cancel their holiday. The policy should also make clear what will happen if employees decide to travel and have to isolate for 14 days upon their return.
Following is a list of some things Employers may wish to consider in respect of holidays before the end of the year is upon us.
Agreeing how extra holiday is carried over
Employees should check their employment contract and employee handbook or talk to their employer to find out what they are entitled to. If employers do not already have an agreement in place, they can decide whether they’ll allow extra holiday to be carried over. And if any agreement is made, it’s a good idea for it to be in writing.
Previously booked holidays
An employee may no longer want to take time off they’d previously booked, for example because their hotel cancelled the booking or their flights are cancelled. An employer can insist they still take the time off, but it’s good practice to get agreement from the employee.
If the employee wants to change when they take this time off, they will need to get agreement from their employer.
Review your policy around annual leave and make clear to employees what will happen if they need to cancel their holiday. The policy should also make clear what will happen if employees decide to travel abroad and have to isolate for 14 days upon their return.
If an employer needs to tell staff when to take holiday
An employer could, for example, shut for a week and tell everyone to use their holiday entitlement.
If the employer decides to do this, they must tell employees at least twice as many days before as the amount of days they need people to take.
For example, if they want to close for 5 days, they should tell everyone at least 10 days before.
Cancelling pre-booked holiday
Employers can also cancel pre-booked paid holiday. If they decide to do this, they should give employees at least the same number of days’ notice as the original holiday request.
For example, if an employee has booked 5 days holiday, the employer must tell them at least 5 days before the holiday starts that it’s cancelled.
This could affect holiday employees have already booked or planned and cause upset. So employers should:
- explain clearly why they need to do this
- try and resolve anyone’s worries about how it will affect their holiday entitlement or plans.