In light of the continuing situation with COVID-19, the UK government recently made changes to the rules regarding an employee’s ability to carry over annual leave. These measures have been put in place for the benefit and support of key workers, such as those who work in healthcare, food, and public utilities, for instance, who are unable to take time off at the moment.   

What are the new carry over rules

Whereas employees were previously only allowed to bring over a maximum of 11 days of unused holiday into the following year, they’re now permitted up to carry over up to 4 weeks of annual leave into their allowances for the next two years. The new policy, the Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, is chiefly designed for those essential workers, whose current efforts are fundamental in supporting the entire country, don’t lose any of their holiday entitlement.  It also benefits employees who:

  • Were sent home, or ‘furloughed’, on account of having no work
  • Are self-isolating
  • Are presently too sick to take annual leave

How the rule changes could affect your business

Though these measures are great news for employees, ironically, they could result in more work for your HR personnel, if you don’t have the right measures in place.

Firstly, with the increased ability to carry over annual leave, most employees will have more holiday dates to play with – certainly over the next few years, at least. However, this now also means they have more opportunities to request time off, resulting in more occasions on which they may l need to contact HR.

Now, if you have a system in place in which an employee requests leave through HR, who first have to check the requested dates for clashes, as well as possibly seek authorisation from the employee’s manager – that’s going to result in an increased workload. Using a centralised, leave management system, on the other hand, gives employees access to the holiday calendar, so they can check for clashes themselves before making a request, as well as automatically sending the request to management for approval.

Also, the new carry over rules state that the employee will be paid any unpaid leave carried over from the previous two years, in the event they leave the company. This can be an administrative headache for HR, if they’re required to go back and manually audit the employee’s annual leave, from as far back as 24 months before. In contrast, employee leave tracking software will automatically calculate carried over leave dates, as well as time off in lieu (TOIL), in order decrease the amount of time and effort put forth used by HR, as well as increasing speed and accuracy.