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Annual Leave – use it or lose it.

At the end of each annual leave year the inevitable question crops up: “My staff haven’t used all of their annual leave, can they carry it over to next year?”

The basic principle of annual leave is that if you don’t use it, you lose it. There are some exceptions to this rule but usually the annual leave accrued that year must be used in that year.

Annual leave allows staff to have a sufficient break from work and permitting employees to carry leave over can sometimes create a practice of ‘saving up’ annual leave. This therefore runs the risk that employees are not taking enough time off as a break each year and employer’s fall short of their legal obligation to permit the time off to be taken.

There are some exceptions to watch out for. Firstly where an employee is unable to work due to long-term sickness, they are usually entitled to carry over 4 weeks annual leave to the next year. Secondly, when an employee is on family-friendly leave (maternity, adoption leave etc) the annual leave can be carried over to the following year when they return to work.

Employees who have been designated as Furloughed can carry over annual leave and spread it over the next 2 years – check out our FAQ here.