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Annual Leave: temporary new law

Before the COVID-19 outbreak, employers were legally responsible (under the Working Time Regulations) to ensure that employees took their statutory annual leave in the current leave year. Any contractual annual leave could be carried forward if the employer’s policy allowed for this to happen.


In response to the current health crisis, the government has introduced a temporary new law allowing employees to carry over up to 4 weeks’ paid holiday over a 2-year period. 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

· they’ve been temporarily sent home as there’s no work (‘laid off’ or ‘put on furlough’)

· they’ve had to continue working and could not take paid holiday.

If an employee is 'furloughed' (temporarily sent home because there’s no work), they can still request and take their holiday in the usual way; this includes taking bank holidays (although they are unlikely to do this).

If an employee leaves their job or is dismissed during the 2-year period, any untaken paid holiday must be added to their final pay (‘paid in lieu’).


It’s up to the employer to decide whether they will allow additional holiday (more than the 4 weeks’ paid holiday) to be carried over. This includes:

· the remaining 1.6 weeks of statutory annual leave

· any contractual annual leave.


Further guidance: acas.org.uk

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