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Introduction to this document

Request to carry over holiday form

If, at your discretion, you occasionally allow employees to carry over their unused annual leave entitlement from one holiday year to the next, you can ask them to first complete our request to carry over holiday form.

No contractual right

Our Holidays Policy is clear that employees must use all of their annual leave entitlement by the last day of each holiday year and they may not carry their holiday entitlement forward into the next one unless there are exceptional circumstances and it is approved in writing in advance by their line manager, or unless as otherwise required by law. Our Request to Carry Over Holiday Form means the employee can make a formal written request to carry over which can then either be approved or declined by their manager. As for when there might there be exceptional circumstances, each case will turn on its own facts and you just need to ensure you’re treating everyone fairly, but circumstances where, according to case law, you have to permit carry-over of annual leave include:

  • long-term sickness absence - if the employee is still off at the end of the holiday year, or there’s insufficient time remaining on their return to work to take their full accrued entitlement in the current holiday year (plus there’s no legal requirement for them to actually make a request to carry over) - they should be permitted to carry over up to four weeks’ statutory leave
  • maternity, shared parental or adoption leave - ditto but applies to the full 5.6 weeks of statutory leave.

Form contents

Our form asks the employee to specify how many days of the current holiday year’s leave entitlement they’ve already used, or had approved to be used, and how many days they wish to carry over. It also asks them to set out the reason for their request. That way, you can assess whether there is a good, genuine reason for the request and whether they are being reasonable about the number of days they want to carry forward. You might wish to have a limit on this, e.g. three days (although that will not apply in relation to long-term sickness absence and family-related leave). Likewise, you might want to set a deadline by which carried over annual leave has to be used and our form provides for this.

Working Time Regulations

The Working Time Regulations 1998 generally ban the carrying over to another holiday year of four weeks’ statutory leave (although case law has carved out exceptions for long-term sickness absence and family-related leave). This means that at least four weeks of annual leave must generally 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 leave can be carried over into the next holiday year provided a “relevant agreement” provides for this. A relevant agreement includes any that’s legally enforceable between worker and employer. In addition, the legislation now says that where, at the end of the holiday year, it was “not reasonably practicable” for the worker to take some or all of their annual leave as a result of “the effects of coronavirus (including on the worker, the employer or the wider economy or society)”, they are entitled to carry over such untaken leave and then take it in the following two holiday years. This applies to up to four weeks of statutory leave that the worker doesn’t take because of coronavirus, e.g. if they’re self-isolating or too sick to take their leave before the end of the holiday year, or if they’ve had to continue working and so couldn’t take it.