The Working Time (Coronavirus) Amendment Regulations 2020 SI 2020/365 has been brought into force with immediate effect from Friday 27 March 2020. It amends the Working Time Regulations 1998 SI 1998/1883.
So, what’s changed?
Carrying Over Untaken Holiday
Workers and/or employees who have not taken all of their statutory annual leave entitlement due to COVID-19 will now be able to carry it over into the next 2 leave years.
The previous position was that the statutory leave entitlement (which is the four weeks of leave granted by the 1998 Regulations) may only be taken in the leave year it is due and may not be paid in lieu of notice except where employment is terminated.
The law has now been amended to allow the carrying over of leave if a worker is unable to take their leave due to the effects of COVID-19, including effects on the worker, the employer, or the wider economy or society. Any such carried-over leave can be taken in the two leave years immediately following the leave year it was due.
Furthermore, the Regulations provide a calculation of a payment in lieu of leave where the worker’s employment has terminated prior to them taking the carried-over leave.
Also, under the new Regulations when an employee wishes to take one of their carried over annual leave days, whilst the employer has the right to refuse such a request, there will also need to be a “good reason” for doing so. However, unfortunately the 2020 Regulations do not define what constitutes a ‘good reason’. We would suggest an employer should seek legal advice before refusing a worker’s request to take carried-over leave before doing so.