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Annual leave and holiday pay

Sue DennehyEditor's message: While some staff may have been asked to take annual leave during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, for example due to a lack of available work, others may struggle to take their leave entitlement as a result of the key role they are playing in the nation’s efforts to fight the virus.

Under the Working Time Regulations, workers are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks’ holiday a year (which can include bank and public holidays). Responding to the coronavirus crisis, the Government has announced that workers will be able to carry over up to four weeks of their statutory annual leave entitlement into the next two leave years.

The Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, which came into force on 26 March 2020, state that leave may be carried over where it “was not reasonably practicable for a worker to take some of all of the leave” to which they are entitled to due to the “effects of the coronavirus (including on the worker, the employer or on the wider economy and society)”.

Given some of the current scenarios preventing staff from working, such as a need to self-isolate, caring responsibilities (including as a result of school closures) and a refusal to work where there is a risk of exposure to coronavirus, employers may also have to consider unpaid leave.

Sue Dennehy, employment law editor

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HR and legal information and guidance relating to annual leave and holiday pay.