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Introduction to this document

Reply to request to carry over holiday

Our letter exceptionally approves the carrying over of some of the employee’s unused annual leave entitlement from one holiday year to the next.

Holidays policy provisions

Our Holidays Policy is clear that employees can’t carry their annual leave entitlement over into the next holiday year unless there are exceptional circumstances and unless it’s been approved in writing in advance by their line manager. Putting aside the exceptional circumstances where you must permit carry-over by law, such as long-term sickness absence and maternity, shared parental or adoption leave, you may also be prepared to allow carry-over in other exceptional cases, such as where the employee is trying to accrue holiday for a special trip, e.g. to celebrate their honeymoon, milestone birthday or anniversary or to carry out voluntary work overseas. Each case of exceptional circumstances will turn on its own facts, but you just need to ensure that you’re exercising your discretion fairly and being consistent.

Statutory position

The Working Time Regulations 1998 ban the carrying over to another holiday year of four weeks’ statutory annual leave (subject to the exceptions carved out by case law, e.g. for long-term sickness absence). This means that at least four weeks of annual leave must be taken during the holiday year in which the worker is entitled to it, but some or all of the additional 1.6 weeks’ statutory annual leave can be carried over into the next holiday year provided a “relevant agreement” provides for this. A relevant agreement includes any agreement in writing that’s legally enforceable between worker and employer. You’re also free to permit carry-over of any contractual holiday over and above the statutory minimum.

Offer letter

Our Reply to Request to Carry Over Holiday can be used either in conjunction with our Request to Carry Over Holiday Form or separately. Our reply acknowledges the employee’s carry-over request (whether that’s been made on our form or in a separate letter or e-mail) and then confirms that you’re willing to make an exception to your usual policy and allow them to carry over annual leave for the purposes of their special trip. Before you draft your reply, make sure that the employee has set out the details of their special trip so that you can assess whether it’s for a good, genuine reason and whether they’re being reasonable about the number of days they want to carry forward. There’s also an optional sentence in our reply that you can include if you’re only willing to agree to part of the employee’s request, e.g. they’ve requested to carry over five days but you only agree to three days. We’ve also enabled you to insert a deadline date by which the carried over annual leave must be used. Finally, if the effect of the special trip is that the employee also wants to take more time off than the maximum amount of annual leave that you would normally allow at any one time, e.g. your holidays policy limits this to two weeks but the employee wants to take three weeks off, we’ve included an optional paragraph you can use if you’re willing to make another exception here and grant that extra time off.