Keeping track of annual leave during a pandemic

Lucy Bickerstaff

July 24 2020

Most business owners see a spike in annual leave requests around July and August and another towards the end of December.

2020 will be different, because this summer, many employees are in lockdown. They have nowhere to go on holiday.

So, by the time you get back into the workplace, your staff will have accrued weeks of leave, and not have much time to use it…

Below, we walk you through the steps to take to ensure you’re not understaffed when you return to work.

Tracking annual leave

Tracking the holidays your employees have taken and how much they have left to take is the most important step.

Without knowing this, it’s difficult to tell whether staff are taking holiday at a reasonable rate, or whether they’re hoarding annual leave until the end of the year.

Remember, furloughed staff still accrue annual leave at the same rate as those in work. However, you might want to think twice about how they use it.

Encourage staff to use leave

While your employees’ holiday plans might be on hold, it’s still important for them to take time away from work.

Annual leave gives your employees time to refresh and recover, so it’s important to encourage them to take time out from work during lockdown. The only exception may be those on furlough.

That’s because, under the Working Time Regulations, you must pay all employees their normal rate of pay during annual leave. As the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme only covers 80% of an employee’s wage, you’ll need to make up the extra 20% whenever staff take holiday.

Let staff carry leave over

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has changed the law around ‘holiday carry over’.

Your staff can now carry over up to four weeks of untaken leave over the next two leave years where it was not reasonably practicable to take it in this leave year. They can also carry over 1.6 weeks into the next leave year with your agreement.

Letting your employees carry over leave may make it easier for you to manage staff during the return to work, particularly for those coming back from furlough. 

However, it does mean that your staff could have a lot of leave to take over the next two years. That makes it even more important than ever to manage how and when employees take holiday.

Enforce leave if necessary

Making employees take annual leave at a time convenient to your business ensures you won’t be understaffed.

You have the right to enforce annual leave, although you must give staff twice the length of that leave in notice. For example, if you want an employee to take three days’ worth of leave, you need to tell them six days in advance.

Need our help?

For further complimentary advice on annual leave from an expert, call us any time day or night on 0800 917 0771 or request a callback here.

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