As we edge close to the lifting of the lock-down restrictions on 21st June 2021 (based on the government’s current roadmap), an increasing number of employees may wish to book holidays around the same time as each other.
Employees are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 working weeks of paid annual leave each year, which works out as 28 days for those who work a 5-day week. This entitlement means that as an employer you must give employees the opportunity to take this amount of annual leave per year as a minimum. Employers retain the flexibility to:
- refuse annual leave requests
- decide when leave can or cannot be taken, and
- how it is taken
Therefore, if relevant as an employer you can enforce the take-up of annual leave now to avoid an influx of requests later in the year. This is because, contrary to popular belief, staff do not have a right to take annual leave whenever they wish. They must request leave, and by implication that means employers have the right to turn down requests.
If you need to exercise this right to enforce take-up of annual leave, you must give staff double the length of the enforced leave as notice. For example, if you want an employee to take 2 days’ worth of leave, notice of 4 days must be given in advance.
Businesses are reminded that annual leave can be taken at the same time as furlough to avoid a bottleneck situation once the scheme ends at the end of September 2021. However, there may be an argument that this circumvents the point of annual leave in that the employee is already not working so employers are seemingly denying them the ability to take the time as a break. It should be noted though that furlough has not been described as a period of holiday, seeing as furloughed employees can be called back to work at any time, and should not be taken as such.