As we approach the end of the calendar year many of us will finalising our holiday plans and looking to see how much allowance we have left (if any). The most popular year end companies adopt for annual leave is 31st December.

The EU and UK working in harmony...

To answer this one we need to understand where the statutory entitlement of 5.6 weeks (28 days) holiday entitlement comes from.

The first 4 weeks is derived from the EU Working Time Regulations 1998 and must be taken during the holiday year i.e. no carry forward.

The additional 1.6 weeks (8 days) originates from UK law, and if agreed between you and your employer in your contract of employment then this element of allowance can be carried forward.

There is a third type of holiday entitlement; that is any allowance over and above the statutory minimum. This is between you and your employer to agree the framework for how this operates.

What does this all mean?

Under normal circumstances, at least four weeks of an employee’s holiday allowance must be used during the year and can't be carried over.

The additional 1.6 weeks holidays allowance (and any further contractual entitlement) can be carried forward subject to employer and employee agreement, although there is no legal right to carry forward.

What about if you are off already on sick or maternity?

If you're unable to take the 4 weeks EU minimum due to already being off work from sickness, injury or maternity then you should be able to carry this forward into the following year. There maybe other reasons you have been absent from work and unable to take the 4 weeks off, but now you are into legal grey areas and you'd be best engaging with your employer and/or legal advisor.

There is no legal provision for the additional 1.6 weeks (and any further allowance) to be carried forward, even in the event of sickness or maternity and therefore this is again governed by agreement between you and your employer.

Employee handbook

The legal position of carry over may covered in your employment contract or employee handbook and we'd definitely advise researching those documents. If you are an employer and haven't fully covered this off in the relevant employment documents then we'd advise doing so, the value of time off work can't be understated, your team will appreciate the clarity.

Main photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash