Many of my employees have not booked any holiday in the summer due to the travel restrictions brought about by the coronavirus but I am concerned that they will all want to take holidays at the same time later in the year, what can we do?
Firstly, you should discuss this with the employees concerned and encourage them to take some holiday for their own health and well-being, so they get a break from work.
Employers have a right, under the Working Time Regulations, to give employees’ notice to take their holidays, just as employees have to give notice to book holiday.
This applies to those that are working and those that are furloughed. Those that are furloughed are likely to be entitled to 100% of their pay for holiday taken while on furlough.
An employee has holiday booked for the summer but we are short-staffed as we have team members who are shielding, can I cancel their holiday?
This is tricky. Employers have a right to decline holiday requests at the time that they are made but this is not an absolute right to cancel someone’s holiday further down the line. The employee would have a good argument that they were entitled to rely on the holiday approval and they may lose money (e.g. a deposit) if their leave is cancelled. You could discuss it with the employee though as it may be that their plans are flexible.
I have had to make some employees redundant, can I make them use up their holiday during their notice period to save having to pay this in addition?
Yes, you can as long as you give the required notice.
Now we are re-opening, can I decline all holiday requests for a period whilst we see how busy things are?
Yes, employers can decline holiday requests if there are business reasons for this. However, you still need to make sure that your employees have some opportunity to take some holiday for health and well-being at some point and you should consider to what extent you are going to allow employees to carry holiday over to the next leave year as this might just be putting off problems.
What about employees that are planning to travel abroad?
The Government has published the full list of countries for which quarantine will not apply to people arriving back in England from Friday 10th July. Employees who are travelling back to England from destinations which are not on the list will have self-isolate for 14 days.
If you have employees who are returning to England from a destination which is not exempt from the quarantine rules and who cannot work from home, you should consider whether you are going to allow them extra leave for this period. We recommend that you should amend your policy or approach to deal with this and notify employees now that if they intend to travel to such a destination, they must notify you at the time of booking the leave and that absence on their return, if not pre-booked, could be treated as absence without authorisation.
It is important that you make clear that this category of self-isolation will be regarded differently from the requirement to self-isolate because of symptoms within the household or support bubble or a NHS test and trace notification.
What if a “local lockdown” impacts on an employee’s travel plans?
Employees who live in areas where local lockdown measures are imposed might wish to postpone their travel plans. Likewise, if their destination is not accepting visitors.
We would advise employers to be as sympathetic as they can to such scenarios in all the circumstances. Holiday policies might set out whether or not employees can retract holiday bookings.