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Furlough and holiday – how are you juggling the two?

Posted
June 10, 2020
Employment Law

One of the more perplexing issues arising out of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been the extent to which furloughed workers can take (or can even be required to take) a holiday. Well, now the government has published further guidance on the issue.

What does the guidance say?

We already knew that furloughed workers continue to accrue holiday during furlough and we felt reasonably comfortable that they could choose to take a holiday (if they wished), without bringing furlough to an end. However, the latest guidance now appears to confirm that employers have the right to require furloughed workers to take holiday, as long as the worker receives the correct period of notice (i.e. a period of notice twice the length of the relevant period of holiday).  

So what?

The longer that furlough goes on, the more important it will become for employers to consider their strategy in relation to holiday. Are you relaxed about the prospect of your staff coming back to work with large amounts of unused holiday? Can you manage the prospect of those employees wanting to take all their holiday before the end of your current holiday year? Or would you potentially have to decline holiday requests in a manner that results in employees wanting (or insisting on the right) to carry holiday forward into the next holiday year? 

Some employers are already trying to gently encourage their staff to use up some of their holiday during furlough. However, if this proves unsuccessful, some may want to go further and compel their staff to take a holiday.  

It’s worth considering what approach you wish to take to this matter, so you can plan accordingly. As part of your strategy, you will need to consider how much you are going to pay your employees during any holiday period. It is not necessarily the case that you can simply continue to pay them the basic level of furlough pay staff are currently receiving. You may be obliged to top their pay up to 100% of normal earnings or something close to that figure.  In any event, if you want to encourage your staff to use holiday during furlough, offering to increase their pay to their normal full rate of pay may be a sensible tactic in any event.

Want to know more?

If you are keen to know more about the interaction between holiday and furlough, you can find the full government guidance via the link below:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/holiday-entitlement-and-pay-during-coronavirus-covid-19 

You can also contact us for specific advice at - employment@stevensdrake.com

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