The government have finally given some further guidance on how annual leave and holiday pay will work with furloughed employees albeit that it was released after close of business on Friday and only in the guidance notes for employees so you would be forgiven for missing it. Here are some of the questions that have been answered:
Will an employee accrue annual leave whilst being furloughed?
Yes, they will continue to accrue leave as per their employment contract or the statutory minimum.
Can you lower the holiday pay entitlement whilst in the furlough period?
Yes, but only in respect of contractual holiday, (that is holiday over and above the statutory holiday allowance) and only with the agreement of the employee. Any variation must be part of the furlough agreement. However, almost all workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks of statutory paid annual leave each year so you cannot reduce the statutory minimum amount of holiday time staff are entitled to.
Can Staff take holiday whilst being furloughed?
Yes, staff can take holiday whilst on furlough subject to their employers’ agreement. However, employers may require employees to defer taking annual leave because employees will be entitled to their usual holiday pay during annual leave and employers will be obliged to pay the additional amounts due to the employee over the 80%/£2,500 cap. However, given that the 17 April 2020 update to the guidance advises that employers can recoup an employee’s holiday pay via the CJRS up to the 80%/£2,500 limit, some employers may take the view that it would be cost effective to allow workers to take annual leave.
If an employee takes annual holiday during the furlough period how much are they paid?
You are required to pay holiday pay at the employees normal rate of pay or, where their rate of pay varies, calculated on the basis of the average pay they received in the previous 52 working weeks. The grant can be used to pay 80% of the holiday pay but employers will need to top up the additional amounts above the grant to ensure that employees are paid their full contractual holiday pay.
What happens to bank holidays which fall during furlough leave?
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This blog and is a summary of the law and the latest government guidelines. It should not replace legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances.