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09th February 2022

Annual Leave – Use it or lose it?

Thinking of getting away this year and still have a lot of unused holiday to take? Stephanie Wiggans, Solicitor at Napthens explains what you may be entitled to.

As we have had another year of travel restrictions, not many employees have been able to get away on their usual holidays. This means that a lot of workers will still have some annual leave left at the end of the holiday year.

A lot of employees have been reluctant to take annual leave during the pandemic in the hope that they can save it for future use when normality resumes.

Do we have to allow employees to carry over unused holiday?

This will depend on the wording of your contracts of employment. Unless the contract explicitly states that the Employer allows holiday carry over, it will be a case of ‘use it or lose it’.

Remember, if an employee has been prevented from taking annual leave due to sickness or other statutory leave, you should allow holidays to be carried over. Note that this applies to the first 20 days of annual leave entitlement only, and any carried over holidays must be taken within 18 months.

If in doubt, you should take legal advice.

What do employers need to do?

Employers should encourage employees to take leave due to them to ensure the employee benefits from the rest and relaxation of that leave. However, employers also need to be mindful of business needs and make sure that there are enough staff available to ensure it is business as usual.

The important thing to remember is to act early. Don’t leave it until the last month of the holiday year to inform employees that they have days left to take. Either you won’t be able to accommodate all of the leave requests, or you will be left short-staffed whilst employees are on annual leave. You should be proactive and make sure that employees are aware of their remaining days well in advance of the end of the holiday year.

Can employers force employees to take their annual leave?

Ultimately, employers can require workers to take their leave should they wish to do so; however, you should do so with caution. This approach may damage employee relations if employers are too insistent, and it means that employees cannot take their leave at a time decided by them. A common method of encouraging leave to be taken is a company-wide communication that reminds all employees to take their holiday prior to the end of the leave year.

If you were to require employees to take annual leave, you must give them twice as much notice as the days they are required to take, for example if you required an employee to take 5 days’ leave, you must give them 10 days’ notice.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

Napthens LLP

Employment Law Specialists

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