UK employment updates for COVID-19.

The Working Time Regulations (‘WTR’) governing the entitlement and taking of statutory annual leave has now been amended in the light of COVID-19, relaxing the restriction on carrying over untaken annual leave into the next leave year.
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Annual leave

The amendment now allows that where it is not ’reasonably practicable’ for a worker to take some or all of the statutory leave in the leave year as a result of the effects of COVID-19, the worker is entitled to carry forward the untaken leave. The carried forward leave may be taken in the two years immediately following the leave year in respect of which it was due.

The amended regulations also provide that where a worker leaves his employment, in calculating the payment in lieu of leave, any untaken carried-over leave should be included in the calculation.

Furthermore, the amended regulations introduce a restriction on an employer’s right to refuse leave on particular days. The employer must now have ‘good reason’ not to allow a worker to take any carried-over leave. The definition of ‘good reason’ has not been provided, but it is likely that it could be based on business grounds rather than any other reason.

From a practical perspective, it should be remembered that UK statutory annual leave is composed of two elements. These are: the statutory four weeks of leave provided by the WTR and the eight public holidays granted by the UK government, making the total statutory entitlement of 5.6 weeks. The present amendment applies only to the four weeks of annual leave and does not allow for any of the additional annual leave (1.6 weeks) to be carried forward. In practice, employers may not wish to make this distinction.

Gender pay gap reporting suspension

Under the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017, relevant employers in the private and voluntary sectors are required to publish gender pay gap information on an annual basis. Similar regulations also apply to the public sector.

The government has now suspended enforcement of the gender pay gap deadlines for 2020.

This article was last updated on 29 March 2020.

Speak to an expert

If you are an employer and would like support around updates to your staff handbook to reflect these updates and support on these topics or any other HR matters, please contact Doug Farrow on +44 (0)20 7556 1453. 

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