The government has just published new guidance on holiday entitlement and pay during the coronavirus pandemic, which can be found here. It confirms many of the issues around holiday that we suspected were the case, including that:
- employees are able to take holiday whilst on furlough and that, if they do, they are entitled to their usual amount of holiday pay (rather than the furloughed rate of pay);
- employers can require employees to take holiday during furlough, provided they give them the required notice and explain why they're being asked to take holiday during furlough;
- when requiring furloughed employees to take holidays, the guidance suggests employers should consider whether any restrictions the worker is under (for example, as a result of social distancing or self-isolation) would prevent the worker from resting, relaxing and enjoying leisure time, which is the fundamental purpose of holiday; and
- that it's unlikely that furloughed employees will need to carry statutory holiday forward.
In most cases, I anticipate that employers will find that furloughed employees can still enjoy their holiday and use it to rest and relax even under lockdown conditions, however it will be interesting to see how many furloughed employees raise this point in practice.
Workers who are on furlough are unlikely to need to carry forward statutory annual leave, as they will be able to take it during the furlough period (in most cases at least -). However, to do so they must be paid the correct holiday pay which is likely to be higher than the rate of pay that will be covered by government grants, with the employer making up the difference.