Holiday and long term absences

Aug 25, 2014 | Time Off Work

Holiday for staff who are at work is one thing, but how much do you know about holiday accrual and taking holiday for those who are on long term absence of some kind? Here’s our handy kind to long term absence and holiday.

Family leave

Employees on maternity leave, paternity leave, adoption leave or the new shared parental leave coming in for babies due from April 2015 continue to benefit from their usual terms and conditions throughout their leave, which includes all contractual paid holiday.

If they are normally required to take particular days off (such as bank holidays or Christmas shutdowns), you should allow them to accrue these along with standard annual leave and take them at another time.

You should encourage employees going on long term family leave to take as much holiday as possible before they go. Women especially might find this an easy way to start their maternity leave a bit earlier.

For you it reduces the amount of holiday they have to take when they return (which if they take up to a year off, could be a significant amount). Bear in mind how disruptive it may be if staff return from long term family leave and then have to keep taking days off to use up their holiday entitlement…

You can apply normal carry-over rules to holiday accrued during family leave, however if someone takes a year or nearly a year off on family leave, it may not be physically possible for him/her to take all their holiday in that holiday year, if the dates coincide with the holiday year in question. In this circumstance, you may be placing the organisation in a vulnerable position legally if your carry-over rules would mean the employee losing holiday, so it is advisable to allow more carry-over if necessary.

Long term sickness absence

There has been an awful lot of back and forth case law about this, but the position at the moment is that employees continue to accrue their statutory annual leave entitlement during long term sickness absence.

If they are unable to take it because they are off sick, regardless of your normal carry-over rules, you must allow them to carry over holiday. However this only applies to the four weeks minimum specified by the (European) Working Time Directive, not to the additional 1.6 weeks granted by the (UK specific) Working Time Regulations. It is sensible to specify what your approach to long term sickness holiday accrual and carry-over will be in a policy.

Sabbaticals or other periods of unpaid leave

There is no entitlement to accrue holiday during these types of leave, however it is sensible to ensure this position is clear upfront, either in a policy if you have one, or in a letter or agreement.

If you have any further queries and need some advice, do get in touch.