We’re currently receiving enquiries from employers who have furloughed employees, and employees who have been furloughed. Both are asking the same question, albeit from two different perspectives.
The issue revolves around paid holiday that was arranged before the lockdown and it’s easy to see why. Furloughed staff don’t feel like they need to take paid holiday time off because they are currently at home at a minimum of 80% of their salary. However, for employers, this can cause an issue because as the lockdown lifts, they may find themselves with lots of staff wanting to take or carry over holiday into the next year.
Time off for furloughed staff
Whilst currently furloughed, if a member of staff has holiday time off booked and wishes to take it they are entitled to take that time as holiday on full pay. If they do not wish to take this time as holiday since they are at home anyway and furloughed, the employer may still require that this pre-arranged holiday is taken. Likewise, if the employee wishes to change the dates of this holiday, they must still get approval from their employer.
Furloughed staff being required to take holiday
If no holidays have been booked, an employer is entitled to tell staff when they must take some of their holiday entitlement. This is not uncommon during the Christmas period or Summer shutdowns in manufacturing. Employers may also choose to ask employees to do this whilst being furloughed to avoid staff accruing extensive amounts owed time to be used when the furlough is lifted. The employer is bound to give the employee double the amount of time of the enforced holiday’s notice. So, if the employer wished to enforce one week of holiday, they would need to give two weeks’ notice before the start of the enforced holiday.
Accrued holiday entitlement for furloughed employees
Employers need to remember that whilst being furloughed, employees still accrue holiday entitlement in exactly the same way as if they were at work. At the time of writing, we are 10 weeks into lockdown and since the furlough scheme began. During this time, furloughed employees will have accrued 10 weeks’ worth of holiday entitlement.
Can furloughed employees carry leave forward?
The Government has laid out The Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, which means that employees will be able to carry forward holiday where the effects of Coronavirus mean that it has not been practical or possible for them to take their holidays during that same year.
We always encourage employers and employees to negotiate and work together when issues around staff entitlement and benefits are under discussion. Now more than ever is the time to work together and for all parties to be amenable to give and take as we emerge into an unknown economic environment.
This isn’t always possible of course, and we are here to offer advice and support you to resolve your employment law issues through legal action, or through our mediation services. Contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org.