Written by Lesley Wilson
Published on December 22, 2009

From 1st April 2009 the minimum amount of annual leave which an employer must provide to a full time worker increased from 24 days per annum to 28 days per annum.

Statutory bank holidays can still be counted as part of the additional entitlement i.e. 20 days holiday plus 8 days statutory holiday making the 28 days per annum.

Most of us are glad to have a break away from work and have our holidays planned well in advance, and could probably happily use double the holiday entitlement but in all organisations there are the reluctant holiday takers.

The stoic few who can't possibly take any time off because they are far too busy to take time out. At the end of the holiday year they still have 3 weeks to fit in but find it impossible to fit the time in due to still being too busy!!

In previous years you might have offered a payment in lieu or allowed a carry over to the next holiday year knowing full well at the end of that holiday year they would have accumulated even more leave not taken.   Since 1st April 2009 these options are no longer available and it is not lawful to make a payment in lieu of the full 5.6 weeks holiday (28 days for full time workers).

The regulations say you cannot exchange any untaken leave for payment and there is now a limited ability to carry leave over the four weeks 'European minimum' from one holiday year to the next. The regulations state you must take at least four weeks' holiday a year so only holiday on top of this can be carried over and then only if this is permitted by your contract of employment.

So what should we all be putting in place to stop us falling foul of the Working time regulations?

Firstly clear annual leave policies and procedures so your employees have no doubt as to what is expected in terms of taking annual leave and how to go about booking the leave.

Secondly, your employees should be actively encouraged to take their full leave entitlement because it is better for their wellbeing and your productivity.

Thirdly, only allow two or three days to be carried over into the next year holiday entitlement and ensure that is communicated to your employees at the beginning of the new holiday year.  Your workaholics will then have to ensure they take their holidays.

Finally check on a quarterly basis outstanding leave and remind staff to book and take it.  That way you can ensure your employees are rested and raring to go and are meeting your business needs.