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Carrying Over Annual Leave

Carry Over Annual Leave

Under the Working Time Regulations 1998, employers are required to give their workers at least 5.6 weeks of annual leave per year. The leave year is set by the employer and workers are normally required to take annual leave during that leave year. Carrying over annual leave occurs when a worker does not use holiday in the year it was accrued but carries it over to be used in the next leave year. 

Workers are entitled to carry over up to 28 days (5.6 weeks) of annual leave into the following year if:

  • The worker is prevented from taking annual leave because of a period of statutory leave, such as maternity or adoption leave.
  • The worker is prevented from taking their annual leave entitlement on account of long-term sickness absence.
  • An employer has failed to give the worker a reasonable opportunity to take holiday or has failed to encourage them to do so.
  • An employer fails to inform the worker that untaken leave will be lost at the end of a leave year.

In respect of leave affected by COVID-19, workers can no longer accrue COVID carryover leave with effect from 1 January 2024. In addition, any COVID carryover leave accrued prior to 1 January 2024, must be used by 31 March 2024.

In most cases, individuals who carry forward leave will use the leave in the following leave year, but for how long can workers keep carrying forward their annual leave? Each case will be different but, generally, the maximum period workers can carry forward their leave is 15 months after the leave year in which that leave was accrued.

Employers have a duty of care to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of their employees and so employees should be encouraged to take regular holidays during the leave year in which it was accrued. If, however, workers make a request to carry forward annual leave, requests should be considered on their merits and handled fairly and consistently.

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