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  • Writer's picture Lyndsay Salmon

What's the deal with carry over of annual leave?

Usually employees can only carry annual leave over from one year to the next in limited circumstances; namely;

  • if they were too unwell to use their leave,

  • if they were on maternity or adoption or shared paternity leave so couldn't use their allowance up,

  • or if their employer had a policy that allowed this. In this last case, this carry over would be capped, so that the employee had taken at least 20 days in the correct leave year - as this was a legal requirement from the working time rules.

Due to Covid, many employers found that they desperately needed their staff to be in - such as medical staff or retail in supermarkets etc and therefore they couldn't allow people to use even the min of 4 weeks - they needed all staff that were well enough to work or not shielding - to be working.

This meant the government could see that as businesses approached the end of the annual leave year there may be a lot of employees trying to use, rather than lose their leave. So they amended the law and advised that if an employee hadn't used 4 weeks in one year, then the employer would not be breaking the working time regs. law; and this would be the case for the next 2 leave years. Therefore more leave could be carried over from one year to the next.

This rule gives the employer some flexibility, however, it is still up to the employer. What the law didn't say was that employees could carry over regardless. Just that employers COULD agree to this carry over this if they wanted to.

I would recommend that where ever possible people are encouraged to take their leave throughout the year, and even though we can't all be jetting off to Ibiza just yet taking time away from work is still essential.

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