Can an Employee carry over their Holiday entitlement?

Can an Employee carry over their Holiday entitlement?

6 January 2023

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Even if your employees love coming to work, they also love holidays for time off. But sometimes employees don’t take all their entitlement. In this blog, we explore whether an employee can they carry any unused holiday over.

Holiday Entitlement

First of all, let’s take a look at what holiday entitlement your team should actually be getting. There is a legal entitlement in the UK to statutory paid annual leave of 5.6 weeks and an employee’s contract will provide details to confirm this and any specific arrangements for bank holidays or for part time workers. Employers can choose though to give employees more annual leave than the statutory minimum if they wish.

Leave Year

The employee’s contract should provide the dates for what is known as the “leave year”. This is the 12 month period that the employee has to use their entitlement for that year. The leave year can be whatever suits the employer. Many businesses use 1 January – 31 December or the financial year from 1 April – 31 March to keep things simple.

Taking Holiday

Most employers will have an established process for requesting and granting holiday. This is normally set out in a staff handbook or document, so that everyone is treated fairly and consistently. Ideally employees should give as much notice as possible of when they want to take their holidays. As a minimum, unless otherwise stated in their contract, employees should make their request at least twice the amount of time beforehand as the amount they want to take off. For example, if an employee wants 5 days off, they’ll need to ask at least 10 days before.

Employers can refuse requests and limit periods when holidays can be taken. They can also set a maximum amount of holiday that can be take at any one time. Again, all of this should be set out in the employee’s contract or staff handbook.

Employers can also make employees take holidays if they feel it is necessary. That might be due to a period of business shut down, like Christmas, or if an employee has lots of holidays still to take at the end of the year. If an employer needs staff to take leave, they should tell them at least twice as many days before as the number of days they need off. For example, if an employer wants a member of staff to take 2 days of holiday then they should tell them at least 4 days in advance.

As an employer. if you are worried that your team members aren’t taking all their leave, then it is always a good idea to talk to them and ensure that they use it rather than lose it. Employers also have a duty of care to ensure the wellbeing of their staff and part of that duty involves making sure they take sufficient leave.

Carrying Holiday Entitlement Over

Employees can only carry over holiday entitlement in a small number of circumstances. If there is a contractual clause or other agreement in place that allows carry over then it is permitted, the majority of such clauses typically set a limit on the number of days that can be carried forward as well as a time limit in which they must be used.

In addition, if an employee has been on maternity leave and they haven’t been able to take holidays then entitlement can carry over. Again, it is worth talking to employees in such instances to agree how and when it will be taken. That might be directly after the end of maternity leave to extend it. It might also be during the first weeks or months after an employee returns from maternity leave to help to phase back into work gradually.

The final exception to the no carry over rule is in cases of long term sickness absence. If employees are unable to take holidays because of long term sickness absence, then a maximum of 4 weeks’ entitlement can be carried over. But this has to be used within 18 months of the date it carried over from and if it is not taken by that point it is lost.

HRX & Holidays

HRX will provide you with a number of solutions to allow you and your employees to manage holidays better. Holiday entitlement is part of every employee’s record. They can see how many days of entitlement they have taken and how many days remain. Holiday requests are also made via the system. The team calendars show when colleagues are on leave so that staff know when they can book certain days off. HRX’s reporting function also allows employers to run reports so that they can check regularly who has taken leave and if anyone has lots of leave to take so that staff don’t end up with lots of holiday entitlement towards the end of the leave year. This means that holiday carry over requests do not become a problem. It also means employees can take the holidays they are entitled to.

To find out how else HRX can benefit your business book a free demo today or sign up for your FREE 30 day trial!


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