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New rules introduced allowing carry over of annual leave which is untaken due to COVID-19

30 March 2020

Last Friday, regulations were brought into force with immediate effect to relax the restriction on carrying over untaken annual leave into the next year leave where leave has not been taken because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Currently, almost all workers in the UK are entitled to 5.6 weeks of annual leave per year (4 weeks under the Working Time Regulations (WTR) and 1.6 weeks under the Working Time Directive (WTD). However, most of this entitlement cannot be carried between leave years which means that workers lose their annual leave if it is not used.

    Currie __Catherine _crop

  Laura Salmond, Partner

The new regulations will allow up to 4 weeks of unused WTR leave to be carried into the next two leave years. This will apply where it was “not reasonably practicable” for a worker to take some or all of his or her leave because of the effects of COVID-19. This includes effects of COVID-19 on the worker, the employer or the wider economy or society. The remaining 1.6 weeks’ of WTD leave will not be affected however, under existing law, it can be carried over for up to a year by agreement.

This change gives employers affected by COVID-19 the flexibility to manage the workforce and staffing levels during this difficult time, while also protecting workers’ rights to paid holiday.

The Government’s announcement can be viewed here and the full regulations are available here.

Employment law is developing rapidly in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and employers must keep up to date. Our Specialist Employment Team are on hand to assist you. Please get in touch if you have any queries.


Laura Salmond Partner: E: / T: 0141 225 5315



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