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Apr 21

Posted by
Jennifer Patton

How To Manage Annual Leave Backlog

With the lifting of some restrictions on the 12th of April, the country hopes to see further easing of restrictions in the coming months. Unfortunately this most likely will not mean travel abroad will be possible however staycationing in our Emerald Isle may be the way forward for the rest of this year. Since covid hit many employees have been unable to take annual leave and therefore it has been accumulating, meaning there is a backlog of annual leave to be used which employers are unsure how to manage.

Annual Leave Entitlements
Regardless of whether employees are full-time, part-time, casual or temporary, they are all entitled to annual leave under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997. Under this Act, the employer can decide the timing of an employee’s annual leave, providing the required notice and also taking into consideration the requirements of the business and the employee’s health and wellbeing.

In the coming months it is reasonable to assume that there will be an influx of annual leave requests therefore employers should revise their annual leave policies to ensure they remain valid and compliant with company policy and procedure. In some situations employers may also have annual leave carried over from the previous year to manage. In this instance, it is best practice for employers to be as flexible as possible to accommodate requests, particularly during these very tough times.

Annual Leave & Lay-off/ Short Time Working
Employees who were placed on lay-off during Covid-19 continue to accrue public holidays during the first thirteen weeks of the lay-off however they do not accrue annual leave during this period.

In relation to short time working, employees must meet the requirement of having worked a minimum of 40 hours in the five weeks prior to the public holiday in order to qualify for entitlement and to accrue annual leave pro-rata.

Annual Leave & The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme
If the employer is availing of The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme but their employees are working their normal hours then their employees continue to accrue public holidays as normal and therefore are entitled to their statutory annual leave entitlement based on the hours worked.

Annual Leave & Covid Symptoms
If an employee displays any symptoms of covid-19 they should first contact their GP then contact their employer to explain the situation and not return to the workplace for 14 days after first experiencing symptoms. Employees are entitled to sick pay if detailed in the terms & conditions of their employment however if the employer does not pay sick pay then employees should apply for the Covid-19 Enhanced Illness Benefit.

Employer Requests: Taking Annual Leave During Covid-19
An employer can request an employee to take annual leave however this should be done in consultation with the employee and in consideration of the business needs. If the company is experiencing challenges it is recommended not to force employees to take all of their annual leave entitlement as the company must take into consideration the employee’s health & wellbeing.

Refusing Annual Leave Requests: Travelling Abroad
If an employee is travelling outside of the country employers cannot refuse an annual leave request based on this. The employer can encourage compliance with government guidelines and public health advice in relation to travelling outside of the country.

However, the employer may have a basis for refusing an annual leave request in relation to restrictions when the employee returns to Ireland in terms of quarantining or 14-day movement restrictions and the impact either of these will have on the business depending on the sector and if the employee is remote working.

Bright Contracts has recently updated its software to include a COVID-19 vaccine policy applicable to any business/ industry. This policy is in addition to the COVID-19 Response Plan and Temporary Working From Home Policy currently available on Bright Contracts.
You can avail of a free trial of the software or purchase a Bright Contracts licence to adapt these policies to your business today. If you are looking to adopt or change your HR Software book a free 15-minute online demo to see how Bright Contracts can change your world of HR.

Webinar: The Vaccine & The New World of Work  Register Today!

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Vaccinations and The Workplace

Role Changing During COVID-19: Can employers ask this of their employees?

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Returning Staff to Work

Posted in Annual Leave, Coronavirus, Employee Handbook