The Silly Season; The Do’s and Don’ts of Annual Leave

At this time of year, I get a lot of questions about the Do’s and Don’t of Annual Leave. Here are some of the more frequently asked questions and the answers:

Q. Are there are different methods of calculating holidays and what method should used?

A. An employee is entitled to paid annual leave equal to—

(a) 4 working weeks in a leave year in which he or she works at least 1,365 hours (unless it is a leave year in which he or she changes employment),

(b) one-third of a working week for each month in the leave year in which he or she works at least 117 hours, or

(c) 8 per cent of the hours he or she works in a leave year (but subject to a maximum of 4 working weeks):

The annual leave to which an employee shall be entitled shall be equal to whichever of the above applicable periods is the greater (but not to exceed 4 working weeks).

Note: the maximum entitlement is four normal working weeks and NOT twenty days; this can be significant because the “working week” itself must be construed by reference to the number of days/hours in a work cycle.

Q. Is Annual leave affected when on other Statutory Leave

A. Annual leave is not affected by other leave provided for by law. Time spent on maternity leave, adoptive leave, parental leave, force majeure leave and the first 13 weeks of carer’s leave is treated as though you have been in employment and this time can be used to accumulate annual leave entitlement – see ‘Calculating annual leave’ below.

Q. What if an employee gets sick during annual leave?

A. If an employee gets sick during annual leave and provides a sick certificate then his leave should not be counted for the days of his certificate and the employee will be allowed carry over his leave, even where it takes him/her into another leave year. Since 1 August 2015, you accumulate statutory annual leave entitlement during a period of certified sick leave. Employees on long-term sick leave can retain annual leave they could not take due to illness for up to 15 months after the end of the year in which it is accrued.

Q. Who Decides the Timing of Annual Leave

A. The employer can decide when annual leave can be taken, subject to certain requirements such as the requirements of the business and the requirements of the employee in respect of work/life/family balance. By the same token it is the employer’s responsibility to see that the employee takes his/her full entitlement within the leave period. Leave must be given and taken within the leave year, unless the employee consents to taking some leave in the first six months of the following leave year. Any leave not taken is forfeited unless the employer agrees to the leave being taken within 6 months of the end of the leave year. The exception to this is in the case of long term absence due to illness where the leave may be taken up to 15 months after the employee returns to work.

Q. Should Annual leave be paid in advance?

A. Yes for accrued entitlements; paid at the normal rate. If pay varies because, for example, of commission or bonus payments, then annual leave pay is calculated as the average of your pay over the 13 weeks before you take holidays.

I hope that helps any with any questions that you may have been having regarding annual leave.