Government to allow employees to carry over annual leave for two years

Employees who are unable to take all of their statutory annual leave entitlement in the current year will be able to carry it over into the next two years.

The amendment to the Working Time Regulations, which was announced on 27 March 2020, has been put in place to support employees unable to take time off during the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic and will apply to almost all workers, including agency workers, those who work irregular hours and workers on zero-hours contracts.

Employees will be able to carry over up to four weeks unused annual leave, which needs to be taken over the next two years, easing the requirements on employers to guarantee that staff take their full annual leave in the current year. This means employees can continue working against the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic without fear of losing out on annual leave entitlements.

The change is aimed at giving businesses under particular pressure from the impacts of Covid-19 the flexibility to better manage their workforce while protecting workers’ right to paid holiday. However, employers need to ensure employees take their transferred statutory entitlement within this time frame or they could face a penalty.

Alok Sharma, secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy said: ” Whether it is in our hospitals or our supermarkets, people are working around the clock to help our country deal with the Coronavirus pandemic.

“[These] changes will mean these valued employees do not lose out on the annual leave they are entitled to as a result of their efforts, and employers are not penalised.”

George Eustice, secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, added: “From our fields to our supermarkets, we are hugely grateful to the many people working around the clock to keep the nation fed.

“At this crucial time, relaxing laws on statutory leave will help ensure key employees can continue the important work to keep supplies flowing, but without losing the crucial time off they are entitled to.

“We welcome the measures the food industry is already taking to keep shelves stocked and supply chains resilient, and will continue to support them with their response to Coronavirus.”