How to handle holiday leave requests

9th June 2021

In this article published in People Management, Senior Solicitor in the Employment team Helena Rosenstein explores how to handle holiday requests where leave may be carried over into the next two years of annual leave in accordance with COVID-19 amendment regulations made in March 2020.

As some holiday years have come to an end, employers may well be faced with staff who request to carry their leave over, or will do so in the future, especially with summer plans uncertain and the possibility of a “third wave” from new variants of the COVID-19 virus.

What is the legal position and what considerations should employers be taking into account practically, especially where holiday requests from staff do not coincide with employers’ wishes?

Businesses can ask workers to cancel a holiday, but they must give at least the same number of days’ notice to cancel as the length of the annual leave, and the March 2020 amendment to the Working Time Regulations 1998 also specifically says that an employer may only cancel the taking of leave, which has been carried over under the amendment, where it “has good reason to do so”. Best practice is still to avoid cancellation, as it is likely to cause significant resentment and store up more leave for future use. Over and above this, employers have an obligation to encourage staff to have time away from their desk (even if it is the kitchen table) and cancelling an employee’s planned holiday should always be a last resort – with every effort made to allow workers to take annual leave as and when requested.

Read the article in full here.

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