As a further measure to assist employers during the Coronavirus crisis, the Government is making a temporary change to the rules on statutory holiday so that where it is not reasonably practicable for a worker to take some, or all, of the holiday to which they are entitled due to the coronavirus, they will have the right to carry 4 weeks of that holiday entitlement into the next 2 leave years. If a worker leaves their job or is dismissed during the 2 year period, they must be paid in lieu of any untaken holiday.
The Government says this measure will ensure all employers affected by COVID-19 have the flexibility to allow workers to carry over leave at a time when granting annual leave could leave them short-staffed in some of Britain’s key industries, such as food and healthcare. Acas however envisages additional situations when this carry over might be used, citing employees who are self-isolating or are too sick to take holiday before the end of their leave year, or who have been temporarily sent home as there’s no work (‘laid off’ or ‘put on furlough’).
It is correct that employees cannot be required to take holiday whilst they are off sick (although they can choose to do so). The issue of holiday whilst on furlough is less clear. Holiday is not covered in the Government’s guidance about the job retention scheme so it is not clear whether employees can take holiday whilst on furlough and, if they do, what they should be paid. There seems no reason why employees cannot be asked to take holiday during a period of furlough however until we have further guidance, employers should ensure there is a gap of at least three weeks between any periods of holiday taken during a period of furlough so that employees remain on furlough for the minimum period of three weeks on each occasion.
If you need a furlough agreement or a home working policy for your staff, or advice and guidance on the impact of the Coronavirus in your workplace more generally, please contact Fiona Hamor.