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Annual leave no longer ‘use it or lose it’

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Employees now legally entitled to carry up to 20 days leave to the next two financial years

Changes to working time regulations to help employers and their staff adapt to the coronavirus pandemic have been designed to remove the “use it or lose it” rush to take annual leave before the end of the relevant year. Many workers have delayed taking time off because of limited holiday options, being on furlough, fear of redundancy, working in front line roles or covering sick or absent colleagues – so they have accrued most of their annual leave.

Kate Jones, an employment lawyer and associate at Midlands firm mfg Solicitors, said: “The working time regulations have been relaxed due to Covid-19 and if an employee didn’t manage to take all their leave within the employer’s holiday year, they can now carry over up to 20 days to use over the next two years. This is a big change because, until recently, that annual leave would have been lost at the start of a new holiday year, unless there was a specific reason, such as sickness or maternity leave.

“With summer holidays abroad still uncertain for many people, it’s worth remembering you have the right to carry over your leave and don’t have to spend it at home doing nothing just to use it up, unless of course you want to.”

Ms Jones urged employers to actively manage the change in regulations to ensure it works for both them and their staff. “For bosses, this means they won’t have to deal with lots of their employees all trying to book the same few weeks off at the end of their holiday year the way they might have been had they all been due to lose it.”

Employers are still obliged to do everything they reasonably can to allow a worker to take as much leave as possible in the current holiday year and must not unreasonably block a worker from doing so. Ms Jones added that employers must also allow an employee to use their carried over leave at the earliest opportunity, but can also give notice to an employee to take leave to ensure it fits in with the needs of the business.

Photo courtesy of Canva.com

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