COVID-19: Can you force furloughed employees to take annual leave?

On 13 May 2020, Government published guidance on employer’s entitlement to force furloughed employees to take annual leave during this pandemic.

  • Employers can both force and cancel a worker’s holiday as long as they give enough notice to the worker.
  • Required notice periods are:
    • double the length of the holiday if the employer wishes to require a worker to take holiday on particular days, or
    • the length of the planned holiday if the employer wishes to cancel a worker’s holiday or require the worker not to take holiday on particular dates.
  • Employers can ask workers to take or cancel holiday with less notice but need the workers’ agreement to do so.
  • Workers on furlough can take holiday without disrupting their furlough.
  • Holiday pay must be paid at 100% of salary.   Note: the employer can continue to claim the 80% grant from the government to cover most of the cost of holiday pay.
  • If an employer requires a furloughed worker to take holiday, the employer should consider whether any restrictions the worker is under, such as the need to socially distance or self-isolate, would inhibit the worker from resting, relaxing and enjoying leisure time, which is considered to be the fundamental purpose of holiday.
  • Bank holiday annual leave can be deferred until a later date if it is the employee’s contractual right to receive it.

See the full guidance here.

Aspire Comment

It is imperative that employers reach the correct holiday pay calculation in order to prevent an employment tribunal later down the line. COVID-19 will not be a reasonable excuse for employers to fail to meet their obligations.

If you have any concerns about holiday pay or any HR queries including furloughing employees and redundancies, please call us on 0121 445 6718.

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