The government has issued guidance to employers on employees’ holiday rights – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/holiday-entitlement-and-pay-during-coronavirus-covid-19#taking-holiday.
- The guidance only applies to the statutory 5.6 weeks of holiday – rights in relation to holiday beyond this amount are a contractual matter between employers and employees.
- Employees do accrue holiday whilst on furlough.
- Employers can require employees to take holiday, even during furlough (but, unless a written agreement says otherwise, must give notice of double the duration of holiday the employer requires the employee to take e.g. 10 days’ notice for 5 days’ holiday).
- Where employers require employees to take holiday, they should consider (and discuss with employees) the reason for wanting them to take leave and whether any restrictions the employee is under such as the need to socially distance or self-isolate prevent them from resting, relaxing and enjoying leisure time.
- Employers can cancel employees’ holiday (but, unless a written agreement says otherwise, must give notice of at least the duration of the holiday booked e.g. 2 weeks’ notice for 2 weeks’ holiday).
- Employees can choose to take holiday during furlough (and if they do, will be entitled to their normal pay).
- In relation to bank holidays that fall during furlough (there are still 2 more to come – late May and August), employers can choose to require employees to take the bank holiday and be paid normal pay for it, or defer the holiday until later in the year.
- Taking holiday during furlough does not break the furlough for the purpose of the 3 week minimum duration rule or for the purpose of claiming the CJRS grant. This means that holiday pay paid for holiday taken during furlough is subsidised by the government.
- Although holiday can be carried forward where it’s not reasonably practicable to take it because of coronavirus (see The Working Time (Coronavirus)(Amendment) Regulations 2020), employees are not entitled to insist on carrying forward holiday for up to the following 2 leave years where it could be taken. Employers can therefore continue to apply the “use it or lose it” holiday rule to most employees unless the employees are prevented from taking holiday due to the employer being too busy because of coronavirus to allow holiday to be taken, for example because employees are needed to cope with Coronavirus related demand.
This article was correct as at the date of publication, 14 May 2020, but as with lots of Coronavirus related employment matters, the summary provided may be subject to change.