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Our company made a change to its holiday rules, asking us to use 75% of our annual leave entitlement before 30 September 2020.

This was announced prior to the Working Time Regulations 2020 Coronavirus Amendment, which allows employees who cannot "reasonably" take a holiday due to the effects of coronavirus to carry unused entitlement forwards two years.

After the change to the regulation came into effect the company has not changed it's position on using 75% of holidays.

Our minimum holiday entitlement is generous (27 days), and given the ability to purchase extra days I am in a position where I would have to take 5 weeks off between now and September. This is untenable for a number of reasons (high workload, single point of failure, nowhere to go in self isolation etc.).

Can my employer disregard the new Working Time Regulations and force me to take the leave/risk losing unused days, or am I allowed to carry over the holidays as per the regulations?

To provide context, the location is the UK, the industry is financial services and my role has allowed me to work BAU from home with little impact. The holiday year runs Jan to Dec and the (company) financial year ends in Sep.

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    I think that´s a discussion you´d best have with you manager. – Daniel Apr 15 at 21:27
  • In the UK, many people take quite a few days of holiday over the Christmas period. So you might want to discuss whether having only 25% of your annual leave available through this time is really desirable. – gnasher729 Apr 16 at 21:11
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This was announced prior to the Working Time Regulations 2020 Coronavirus Amendment, which allows employees who cannot "reasonably" take a holiday due to the effects of coronavirus to carry unused entitlement forwards two years.

You've got the point of the changes backwards I'm afraid - the intent is to prevent key workers - who will be having leave requests denied - from being unfairly deprived of holiday entitlement. Or key business from suffering because they can't keep staffed because employees are using their leave entitlements so as not to lose out (because of the previous limits on carry-over).

The relevant bit is (taken from here):

Where it is not reasonably practicable for a worker to take some, or all, of the holiday to which they are entitled due to the coronavirus, they have a right to carry the 4 weeks under regulation 13 into the next 2 leave years.

So if the company is telling you to take the leave it's "reasonably practical" pretty much be definition so they can "force" you to take it, what they can't do is force you to lose it - if they repeatedly deny all (or sufficient of them that you can't meet your minimum entitlement) of your leave requests between now and the end of the leave year then the WTR amendment will kick in to enable you to carry over the 4 weeks - but you need that request -> deny cycle to happen first.

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Our company made a change to its holiday rules, asking us to use 75% of our annual leave entitlement before 30 September 2020.

Asking or telling? An important distinction, as the latter would be a unilateral change to your employment contract which could be challenged. Now is probably not the best time to be doing this.

This is untenable for a number of reasons (high workload, single point of failure, nowhere to go in self isolation etc.).

All of which are their problem, not yours. Apart from the last one. I'm not sure I could stand 5 weeks of sitting around the house either, and would probably just take every (e.g.) Friday between May and the end of September. Make certain that you're really, really unavailable on each of your holidays.

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It's a good and timely question. As far as I'm aware employers are in the rights to request employee to take annual leave in a specific period, assuming that enough of notice was given. The notice period has to be twice the requested annual leave:

In the absence of a relevant agreement, reg.15(2) states that a worker's employer may require them to take annual leave on particular days by giving the appropriate notice. Such notice should specify the day or days on which leave is required to be taken and must be given twice as many days in advance of the earliest day specified in the notice as the number of days to which the notice relates, ie the length of notice must be at least twice the period of leave it requires the worker to take (reg.15(3) and (4)). For example, if the employer requires the worker to take one week's annual leave at a particular time, it must give the worker at least two weeks' advance notice.

Source: XpertHR

To your question, my understanding of The Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 is that those provide provisions for carrying annual leave that could not be reasonably used due to the epidemiological situation. I would understand that the older provision still applies and an employer can ask you to use annual leave. The "September thing", which appears to be common across the UK is in effect irrelevant as, if my understanding of the relevant legislation is correct, an employer can ask you to use X number of days in any month assuming that they do it early enough.

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