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How to deal with the holiday entitlement of an employee taking adoption leave

Authors: Tina Elliott and Susie Munro


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  • Recognise that annual leave rights are in addition to adoption leave and that adoption leave cannot be treated as annual leave.
  • Be aware that you cannot pay employees in lieu of their statutory annual leave entitlement except on termination of the employment.
  • Be aware that you have more freedom to deal with contractual annual leave in excess of the minimum statutory entitlement, with regard to, for example, paying in lieu.
  • Ensure that employees do not lose out on their holiday entitlement if their adoption leave coincides with a workplace annual shutdown.
  • Remember that statutory annual leave under the Working Time Regulations 1998 continues to accrue during adoption leave.
  • Take into account that employees are entitled to the benefit of all their non-remuneration terms and conditions throughout adoption leave. This includes accrual of contractual holiday above the statutory minimum.
  • Consider the allocation of annual leave as part of planning for adoption leave absences.
  • Although the law is unclear on the subject of carry-over of statutory holiday from one year to the next where an employee on adoption leave has been unable to take it in the leave year in which it falls due, take into account that good practice and least legal risk would point towards allowing carry-over in these circumstances.