Acas guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19): third revision to holiday section

Acas guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19): third revision to holiday section

Acas published wide-ranging guidance for employers and employees regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, relating to various topics including staying at home, social distancing, self-isolation, sick pay, closure of workplaces, time off for carers and others.

Part of that advice relates to Using holiday, which considers:

  1. carrying over holiday

  2. the relationship between holiday (annual leave) rights and furlough under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) (see Practice Note: Coronavirus job retention scheme)

  3. the extent to which employers may require employees and workers to take holiday on specific dates, or to cancel holiday

The guidance on Using holiday was first added on 31 March 2020.

Since that time, the wording of that part of the guidance has been revised on 2 April, on 7 April and then again on 9 April 2020.

For analysis of the earlier revisions, see News Analysis: Acas guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19): holiday section revised and Acas guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19): more changes to holiday section.

Further revisions to Acas guidance on holiday rights, furlough and carry over—9 April

Some of the changes made are to the layout of the sections relating to holiday. Others are additions to, or deletions from, the substantive guidance. These include:

  1. a section entitled ‘Being flexible about holiday during coronavirus’, which, although the content is not new, is now more prominent and appears earlier in the guidance, possibly to emphasise the importance of this aspect of the guidance

  2. a new section entitled ‘If you’re a furloughed worker’, which repeats what was set out in earlier versions of the guidance, to confirm that:

    1. employees or workers who are temporarily sent home because there’s no work (‘furloughed workers’), can request and take their holiday in the usual way, if their employer agrees. This includes bank holidays [the words in italics are new in this version of the guidance]

    2. furloughed workers must get their usual pay in full, for any holiday they take

  3. in the section on ‘Carrying over holiday’, guidance that previously read: ‘The employee may also need to carry over holiday if they’ve been 'furloughed' and they cannot take paid holiday because of coronavirus’ now reads: ‘They may also be able to carry over holiday if they’ve been 'furloughed' and cannot reasonably use it in their holiday year’, which suggests that the fact that an employee has been furloughed may, without more, be enough to justify the employee’s holiday being carried over

  4. an amendment to clarify that, if an employee or worker leaves their job or is dismissed and has carried over paid holiday because of coronavirus, any untaken paid holiday must be added to their final pay ('paid in lieu')

  5. changes to the guidance in relation to bank holidays. This now states:

    1. Bank holidays are usually part of the legal minimum 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday

    2. employers can still require employees and workers to take paid holiday on a bank holiday, unless they’re off sick. They must give employees or workers notice

    3. employees and workers can also ask to take a day’s paid holiday. If the employer agrees, they must get their usual pay in full for bank holidays

    4. if employees and workers are not sure if bank holidays need to be taken as paid holiday, they should check their contract and talk to their employer

    5. if bank holidays cannot be taken off due to coronavirus, employees and workers should use the holiday at a later date in their leave year

    6. if this is not possible, bank holidays can be included in the four weeks’ paid holiday that can be carried over. This holiday can be taken at any time over the next two holiday leave years

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