Annual Leave accrual following the Covid-19 pandemic – What Employers and Employees need to know
Unused annual leave is a topical issue for many employers across Ireland at the moment. That is because annual leave management during the Covid-19 shutdown has been difficult.
The Current Situation
Many employees have built up high volumes of annual leave during the Covid-19 shutdown. This is because many employees were reluctant to take annual leave, for obvious reasons. Many employers are now wondering what the best way is to treat employees who have high volumes of annual leave accrued.
What should employers be doing?
Employers should check if there is a build-up of unused annual leave entitlements. Given the limited travel options in the past 12 months, it’s highly likely that your employees may have unused annual leave.
Did employees accrue public holidays and annual leave if they were laid off temporarily?
During lay-off or short-time working, employees were still employed by their employer and their contract of employment remained in force. This means that they were entitled to benefit from any public holidays that occur during the first 13 weeks of lay-off. While employees who were laid off temporarily didn’t accrue annual leave while they were not working, many other employees have been working through the pandemic and have built up considerable annual leave balances.
How many days of annual leave can employees carry over?
Annual leave carryover in Ireland can be a grey area for both employers and employees, especially if the contracts of employment do not outline your business’s position. Businesses generally outline in their Annual Leave policy how much leave, if any, an employee can carry forward from one year to the next. Another option for employers is to reimburse employees for their annual leave, but many businesses will want to avoid the additional expense which this option involves.
Can employees be forced to take Annual Leave?
The short answer is yes—your employees do not have the right to choose when they take all of their annual leave. But employers should not find themselves in a position where they have to take this option. Strong, open, and honest communication with employees should mean that business owners do not find themselves in the position where they have to use this option. Forcing an employee to take annual leave may appear to be overly assertive and result in upsetting some of your employees.
Effective management of annual leave is vital for businesses to operate efficiently. If you require a free consultation on this and other HR issues facing your business, contact me online on our site or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org