Employers – Managing Annual Leave in 2021

January 26, 2021

 

Due to the COVID-19 impact on the ability to take annual leave in 2020, the Government introduced emergency legislation that allows employees to carry forward up to 4 weeks’ leave for the following two years. This applies where it has not been reasonably practicable to take annual leave during 2020.

As the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out continues and provides a light at the end of the tunnel, many employers may be thinking about how they can manage an increased uptake in annual leave over the next two years.

Employers can require employees to take holiday on specific dates by giving notice which is double the length of the holiday required to be taken. They can also cancel staff’s annual leave if necessary, by giving notice which is the length of the planned holiday; however, they should do so only when absolutely necessary as exercising this power unreasonably could lead to staff unrest or constructive unfair dismissal claims.

Fiona Sinclair outlines some tips on how employers can effectively manage annual leave:

  • Ensure that all members of staff are clear about how much annual leave they have to take and the dates by which the annual leave must be used. This will assist in workforce planning, which will be particularly important this year. 

  • Communicate with staff clearly about the policies on taking annual leave. For example, if working in the hospitality industry, having multiple staff off over Christmas or Bank Holidays would be impractical and if employees plan to take annual leave over that time then they should make their requests early. The same would be applicable over the school holidays, as this tends to be a peak time for annual leave to be taken.

  • It is also important to apply these policies in a consistent and fair way, and be careful not to discriminate against certain groups of staff.

  • Ensure that employees are taking holiday and getting the break they needed. Everyone has experienced lockdown differently so employers should show support and encourage their employees to take leave.

 

 

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