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Can I be made to take holiday while on furlough?

Can I be made to take holiday while on furlough?
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One of the consequences of furlough is that it has caused a lot of confusion regarding employee holiday entitlements.

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Although the government has done its best to provide guidance, questions still persist regarding what furlough means for the holiday or annual leave that every employee is legally entitled to. Can your employer make you take holiday while on furlough?

What are your holiday rights while on furlough?

Under current laws, employees are legally entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks paid holiday per year. According to the government, this includes furloughed workers.

If you’re on furlough, you’ll continue accruing your statutory holiday entitlements and any additional holiday provided under your employment contract.

Can my employer force me to take holiday while on furlough?

It’s easy to see why some employers might want you to take your statutory holiday while on furlough.

Basically, it prevents employees from building up months’ worth of holiday while on furlough. Your boss might also do it to get the government to fund 80% of your annual leave payment through the furlough scheme.

The big question now is whether your employer can force you to take holiday while on furlough. And the answer is yes.

According to the government’s guidance on holiday entitlement and pay, an employer can compel you to take your annual leave while on furlough as long as proper notice requirements are met. The required notice period in this scenario is double the length of the holiday your employer wishes you to take.

Say, for example, that your employer wants to furlough you for the next three weeks. But they also want you to take one week of holiday while you’re on furlough.

In this case, the company has to tell you at the start that the third week is annual leave. They’ve then given you the required two weeks’ notice for the one week of annual leave. 

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Keep in mind that tax rules can change, and the value of any benefits depends on your personal circumstances.

This raises another question. What if you are not under any personal restrictions, but are still in a situation that could prevent you from fully reaping the benefits of your annual leave, for example, if you’re homeschooling? Can your employer still make you take your annual leave while on furlough?

Unfortunately, there’s no specific guidance on this. You might have to contact your employer and explain why it isn’t a good time to take your annual leave.

How much do I get paid if I’m forced to take holiday while on furlough?

If your employer makes you take holiday while on furlough, you can actually get paid more. That’s because any time spent on holiday (whether on furlough or not) has to be paid at your full wages.

So basically, you’ll get 80% of your wages from the furlough scheme and your employer will have to top up the rest to make sure you get your usual pay in full.

Can I ask for holiday while on furlough in order to get a pay boost?

You can, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll get it. That’s because legally, employers can decline annual leave requests from employees when they have a business reason to do so.

However, they must give you at least the same amount of notice as the length of the holiday you want to take.

If you cannot take your leave in the current leave year for one reason or another, the government has introduced a new law that could allow you to carry it over into the next two leave years.

Takeaway

Your boss can legally make you take your annual holiday while on furlough under current laws. But on the upside, you’ll get a pay boost if they do. 

Also, don’t forget that you may be entitled to other benefits and support from the government, such as Universal Credit, if you’re currently furloughed and are struggling financially. To find out the exact kind of support you may be entitled to, head over to the gov.uk website.

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