Managing Festive Annual Leave

The challenges of festive leave …

There are numerous challenges to overcome when managing annual leave over the Christmas and New Year period, especially if your annual leave year runs from January to December.

Christmas often means an unprecedented number of annual leave requests, so we’ve devised some helpful guidance to help you prepare for the festive season.

Managing annual leave

Christmas may be your busiest time of year, and if so it’s important to plan ahead. Talk to staff to ensure they are booking their annual leave at regular intervals through the year. Whether you have a self-service system for requesting leave, paper forms or a central spreadsheet, managers should monitor how many annual leave days staff have left to take, and encourage staff to book leave that’s not used.

Carrying over annual leave into future leave years

The 5.6 weeks (28 days for a full-time staff member) of statutory holiday is divided into 4 weeks and 1.6 weeks. There are different rules that apply:

  • The 1.6 weeks can be carried forward into the following leave year if a written agreement exists between the worker and the employer in their leave policy

  • Generally, the four weeks cannot be carried into future leave years, so employers must facilitate these weeks being taken within the relevant leave year

Some workers may have contracts that give them additional paid annual leave in excess of the 5.6 weeks. The 4 weeks that cannot be carried over into future leave years still applies.

There are some circumstances when employers must allow the four weeks to be carried over into the next leave year. This is when a worker cannot take annual leave due to sickness or family leave for example. These rights are not impacted by a worker having been on furlough.

New legislation on carry over in response to Covid-19

Last year, the Government passed new emergency legislation to ensure businesses have the flexibility to respond to the pandemic and to protect workers from losing their statutory holiday entitlement (The Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020) should they wish to.

This is still in effect, meaning workers may be able to carry forward annual leave where the impact of Covid-19 means that it has not been ‘reasonably practicable’ for staff to take some or all of the four weeks’ leave. The untaken amount may be carried forward into the two following annual leave years if your employer has agreed this. It is important that when an employer is calculating how much annual leave a worker can carry over, they give the worker the opportunity to take any leave they cannot carry forward before the end of the holiday year.

Employers must still try to allow the worker to take as much leave in the year in which it relates and provide the opportunity for staff to take annual leave as soon as possible in the following annual leave year once it has been carried over.

The Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 – what is reasonabl