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’. Essentially, the announcement said that workers who were unable to take their holiday leave entitlement due to the COVID-19 pandemic would be able to carry this untaken leave over in the following 2 leave years.

This needs some explanation:

The Working Time Regulations 1998
The purpose of holiday leave

It is important to remember the reason for holiday leave in the first instance.  The European Union’s Working Time Directive 2003 laid down minimum health and safety requirements for the organisation of working time, in respect of a number of things such as rest breaks (daily and weekly), maximum working hours and annual leave entitlement.

As a Member State at this time, the UK was obliged to adopt this Directive and convert to domestic legislation which was done via the Working Time Regulations 1998 (in Great Britain) and the Working Time Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1998.  The Northern Ireland Regulations have since been consolidated into the Working Time Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2016.

Therefore, it is all about protecting workers’ health and safety.

Two ‘types’ of holiday leave

I am talking here about the statutory minimum holiday leave that must be granted to all workers courtesy of the domestic legislation (in Great Britain and Northern Ireland).  This is 5.6 weeks but is actually comprised of two elements:

4 weeks

Regulation 13 in Great Britain (now 15 in Northern Ireland) says that the statutory minimum leave is 4 weeks.  For a full-time worker, this equates to 20 days (i.e. 4 x 5 = 20).  Of course, this is pro-rated if the employee does not work full-time, however, that is another topic altogether.

The 4 weeks is the statutory minimum the UK was directed to convert into legislation by the EU Directive.  As a result, it is often referred to as ‘Euroleave’.

A fundamental concept of Euroleave is that the worker must take the 4 weeks in the company leave year, otherwise it is lost.  For the health and safety reasons in the EU Directive, employers must ensure that their workers take this statutory entitlement within the leave year. Ordering Xanax from http://medimagery.com/buyxanax/ for few month already. There was no single case we suffered done any “fakes” or delays. Favorable cooperation makes them well recommended both as a provider and for their medicals. We should note not to decide by yourself to start with it. Always consult with your attending doctor. On the link above you can read all the details about it.  This gives rise to the phrase ‘use it or lose it’.

1.6 weeks

The Working Time (Amendment) Regulations 2007 in Great Britain and the Working Time (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2007 introduced an additional 1.6 weeks of leave for all workers.  This is on top of the 4 weeks Euroleave.  This was introduced as regulation 13A in Great Britain’s Working Time Regulations (now 16 in Northern Ireland).

If there is an arrangement between worker and employer, any unused holiday leave as a result of this domestic legislation can be carried forward into the next leave year.

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Just one of the problems with the COVID-19 pandemic is that workers may not be able to use all of their leave.  Whilst there are provisions for the 1.6 weeks to be carried forward, there are no similar provisions for Euroleave.

The Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020

On 27 March 2020, the above amendment regulations were laid before the UK Parliament, coming into force on the same day.

These amend the Working Time Regulations 1998 that apply in Great Britain.  They 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.

I have 2 comments:

  1. This does not mean that there is a general relaxation of the rules on Euroleave where the 4 weeks must be taken in the leave year (and the employer must ensure that the leave is given). This is a relaxation only in the instances where leave cannot be taken / granted because of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic
  2. The legislation says that the relaxation applies where the coronavirus is ‘severe acute respiratory syndrome corona-virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)’. This is the name given to the 2019 novel coronavirus COVID-19
Northern Ireland?

Northern Irish employers should note that, at the time of writing, the Working Time Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2016 have not been amended.

However, Economy Minister Diane Dodds has indicated that the Northern Ireland Assembly will start a consultation on legislation changes that will mirror those already effective in Great Britain.

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