On 27 March 2020, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) issued a press release entitled ‘Rules on carrying over annual leave to be relaxed to support key industries during COVID-19’.
The Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020
The Regulations put into legislation the BEIS announcement and say that where it is not possible for a worker to take their Regulation 13 Euroleave (4 weeks):
‘as a result of the effects of coronavirus (including on the worker, the employer or the wider economy or society)’
The worker can carry any unused entitlement over into the following 2 leave years.
At the time of writing, no similar legislation has been introduced in Northern Ireland and the Working Time Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2016 had not been amended. Although, Economy Minister Diane Dodds proposed that similar legislation would follow.
On 24 April 2020, the Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 came into operation. This mirrors the Great British legislation in respect of Regulation 15 Euroleave (4 weeks).
As also applies in Great Britain, when a worker carries forward leave (and it remains untaken), on termination, the employer must make a payment in lieu.
Note that this carrying forward of leave for 2 years in both employment law jurisdictions applies to the Working Time Regulations leave provided for by Regulation 13 (in Great Britain) and 15 (in Northern Ireland). This is the 4 weeks statutory minimum the UK was directed to convert into legislation by the EU Working Time Directive. Hence why it is often referred to as ‘Euroleave’.