Coronavirus National Crisis – Rules regarding Annual Leave / Holiday entitlement

Pattinson & Brewer Solicitors

Coronavirus National Crisis – Rules regarding Annual Leave / Holiday entitlement


Coronavirus National Crisis – Rules on carrying over annual leave to be relaxed to allow workers to carry it over to the next 2 leave years


The Government has announced it is allowing workers to carry over up to four weeks of annual leave into the next two leave years. The specialist employment department at Pattinson & Brewer have set out below what you need to know.

What is the current law on carrying over holiday?

Currently, almost all workers are entitled to 28 days’ holiday including bank holidays each year. However, the law does not guarantee the right to carry unused leave over into the next holiday year. This means that employers are free to decide whether you can carry over any untaken leave.

It’s also important to note a distinction between EU law and UK law. Whereas EU law protects four weeks’ (20 days for a full-time worker) paid annual leave, UK law provide an 1.6 additional weeks’ (28 days for a full-time worker), as mentioned above. Please bear this distinction in mind when we discuss the legal changes below.

How is the law changing?

The COVID-19 situation has clearly prompted the government increase businesses’ flexibility to efficiently manage their workforce, while protecting workers’ right to paid holiday.

The change will allow workers to carry over EU holiday into the next two leave years, where it is not reasonably practicable for them to take some, or all, of the holiday they are entitled to due to COVID-19.

Please note that this change only applies to the four weeks’ protected under EU law, rather than the additional 1.6 weeks’ statutory leave under UK law (although it can be carried over for up to a year by agreement under existing law).

Protecting workers’ right to paid holiday

These changes will hopefully provide vital reassurance to workers in regards their right to paid holiday during these troubled times. They also aim to ensure that employers affected by COVID-19 have the flexibility to allow workers to carry over leave at a time when granting annual leave could leave them short-staffed in some of Britain’s key industries, such as food and healthcare.

A Government press release has also stated that these changes will apply to agency workers, those who work irregular hours, and workers on zero-hours contracts.

Pattinson & Brewer’s specialist employment team

Our team provide specialist employment law advice exclusively to claimants. Our passion for protecting employment rights and our years of experience in doing so means that we are able to keep you updated with key the changes impacting employees as they occur.

If you require advice in relation to the above or any other employment matter, please contact our free helpline on 01904 528 310.

Follow us on Twitter: @PB_Employment

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