Carry over of annual leave

09 July 2019

On commencement of employment, an employee begins to build up or accrue holiday entitlement. An employee is entitled to a minimum of 5.6 week’s leave.

4 weeks of this must be taken during the leave year to which it relates. It is up to the employer whether the rest (i.e. 1.6 weeks, may be carried over into the next leave year). 

Usually, there's no statutory obligation on an employer to allow an employee to carry leave over to the following year, though this may not be the case where the employee has been on long term sick leave or maternity leave.

Leave may generally only be carried over if the employer gives the employee permission or if it's stated in the employment contract and/or staff handbook.

As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, the law has been amended to give workers an entitlement to carry over 4 weeks of their annual leave if they are unable to take it because of coronavirus. This may be because:

  • They're self-isolating or are too sick to take holiday before the end of their leave year
  • They've temporarily sent home as there’s no work (‘laid off’ or ‘put on furlough’)
  • They’ve had to continue working and could not take paid holiday.

The leave will be able to be used in the next two leave years after 2020.

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