The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a great deal of upheaval for both employers and employees – but one element that can get overlooked is holidays. Perhaps holidays and taking time off haven’t been at the forefront of everyone’s minds for the past year, but it is still important to know your rights and responsibilities.
The unprecedented furlough scheme and requirement for remote working have caused some confusion and misunderstanding regarding what businesses owe staff in terms of their holiday entitlement and pay.
Here, we take a closer look at holiday pay, how it has been affected by the pandemic, and what you are entitled to.
Who is entitled to holiday pay?
Nearly all workers are entitled to holiday pay. All workers (including those on zero-hour or irregular-hour contracts) are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid holiday as a minimum. The only workers who are not are those who are self-employed. If you are an employee of the business, this is the minimum level of holiday pay that you should receive.
Even if you are on sick leave, maternity leave, or any other type of statutory leave, you have the same level of holiday entitlement.
How much should you get?
As mentioned above, staff are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid holiday. This works out as 28 days of paid holiday for full-time staff. Most employers include bank holidays within this entitlement, of which there are 8 each year in the UK – however, there is no statutory right for time off for bank holidays.
Many workers are offered more generous holiday entitlement by the company that they work for and may accrue more holiday pay.
Does furlough affect holiday pay?
Some employees have been concerned that having been furloughed for a significant part of the year, they may not have accumulated holiday as normal. Workers who have been placed on furlough accrue holiday entitlement as normal, including anything beyond statutory holiday pay in their contract.
Workers can take holiday during their time on furlough – and this does not disrupt their furlough pay. Additionally, employers do retain the right to make reasonable requests for staff to take holidays spread out across the year, and this could include when a member of staff is on furlough.
Does remote working affect holiday pay?
During the pandemic, the government issued a requirement for staff to work from home where possible during lockdown. This has led to some staff wondering whether working remotely has any effect on holiday entitlement.
The good news here is that remote working – either at the request of employers or on personal preference – does not affect holiday pay. You still accrue and are entitled to the same level of holiday when you work remotely.
Does holiday carry over?
Given the tumultuous year, and the fact that many workers have been furloughed through the year, it has led some to wonder whether holiday carries over. After all, for many staff, it would be preferable to defer their holiday until the end of the pandemic.
However, the answer to this will depend. In general, there is no legal requirement for employers to allow their staff to carry over unused holidays. Some employers may allow it in a specific amount, and others may be amenable to discussing the possibility of it. However, there is no law requiring employers to offer this to staff.
What if I haven’t used up my holiday allowance?
Your employer cannot stop you from using a holiday allowance. However, they are allowed to make reasonable requests for you to take the holiday spread out across the year. If you are worried that you are in danger of not using your holiday allowance this year, talk to your employers about options. You may find that under the circumstances, they are accommodating.
If you are an employer and are confused about holiday pay and what you need to offer to staff, you may need professional advice. At Numeric Accounting, we can provide information and guidance on all aspects of holiday pay. Get in contact with our experienced team for more details.