On 13 May 2020, the Government published guidance stating that employers can require their employees to take holiday during a period of furlough leave. It is important to note that the guidance does not have any legal effect and therefore tribunals will not be required to follow it.
Employers need to be aware that the guidance does not mean employees won’t in the future claim that taking holiday whilst on furlough did not give them the opportunity to enjoy their holiday as required by law. This means that as well as topping up furlough pay to 100% if an employee is forced to take holiday during furlough, they may also try to take their holidays again when furlough has ended.
The relevant part of the guidance states “if an employer requires a worker to take holiday while on furlough, the employer should consider whether any restrictions the worker is under, such as the need to socially distance or self-isolate, would prevent the worker from resting, relaxing and enjoying leisure time, which is the fundamental purpose of holiday”.
The full guidance can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/holiday-entitlement-and-pay-during-coronavirus-covid-19
Given the slight easing of lockdown to allow unlimited exercise it is difficult to see how employees could argue that they can’t enjoy their holiday whilst on furlough, but that does not mean that employers won’t face the argument in the future!
If you have any queries in relation to holiday during furlough leave or any other queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch on 01228 552600 or 01524 548494
This alert does not provide a full statement of the law and readers are advised to take advice before taking any action based on the information contained herein.