Holiday FAQs

Holiday FAQs regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)


My annual leave has been cancelled.  Will I be able to carry it over? 

Holiday entitlement in England and Wales is governed by the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR).  In normal circumstances, employers have an obligation to give staff a reasonable opportunity to take holiday in the leave year in which they accrue it. 

The government announced (April 1 2020) that they will amend the WTR so as to allow employees to carry-over up to 4 weeks’ holiday into the next two holiday years. This will apply where it has not been “reasonably practicable” for you to take some or all of your leave “as a result of the effects of Coronavirus”. 

As well as extending the carry-over period, the change also means that:  

  • If your employment is terminated during the two-year period, any payment in lieu of holiday must include a payment in lieu of holiday carried over under these provisions. 
  • Your employer still has the right to refuse permission for you to take leave on particular days.  However, under the new regulations, they can only exercise this right where there is “good reason to do so”. 

Can my employer tell me when to take my annual leave? 


Your employer has the right to tell you when to take holiday if they need to.  For example, they can decide to shut for a week, and everyone must use their holiday entitlement.  Please note, this only applies to the 4 weeks (20 days) basic leave covered under European Law. 
If the employer does decide to do this, staff must ordinarily be given at least twice as many days’ notice before as the amount of days they need people to take.  For example, if they want to close for 5 days, they should tell everyone at least 10 days before. 
This could affect holiday staff have already booked or planned.  So, employers should: 

  • explain clearly why they need to close 
  • try and resolve anyone’s worries about how it will affect their holiday entitlement or plans 

An employer can also decline a request for annual leave. They may do this if they cannot afford to pay you for time off. For further information on this, see the FAQ on reduced hours.

What Holiday am I entitled to if I am furloughed? 

The government’s guidance on the Job Retention Scheme does not make specific reference to annual leave.  But it does say that “employees that have been furloughed have the same rights as they did previously”. This suggests that workers who are on furlough will continue to accrue holiday entitlement whilst they are furloughed. 

Are schools opening over the summer holidays? 

On 19 April, the Education secretary, Gavin Williamson, said there is “currently no plans to have schools open over the summer period”. 

Will support staff on term-time only contracts be paid over holidays? 

As support staff you are employed by your individual schools, trusts or maybe the local authority. Therefore, if you are being asked to work through the holidays you should ask for detail as to how it will be arranged before you agree to it since it may constitute a temporary change to contract.   

Your School, College or Early Years Setting must have regard to the following: 

  • You can be paid or given time off in lieu. 
  • You should have a meaningful break away from the workplace.
  • You may have your own children to care for.
  • Arrangements for paying you if you become sick.
  • If you need to isolate 

Your employer or manager must discuss and agree any new working arrangements with you, and you would be wise to get any arrangement put in writing before you agree. 

Summer Holidays and Quarantine 

How will the quarantine work? 

At the time of writing, anyone entering the UK, with a few exceptions, will need to provide an address where they intend to self-isolate. This can be your own home, but you will not be allowed to leave the house for two weeks and Public Health England will contact new arrivals at random to make sure they are following the rules.  The quarantine rules will be reviewed every three weeks.  In England, a breach of the quarantine rules could be punishable by a £1,000 fixed penalty notice.  

Those travelling from the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are exempt from quarantine requirements. 

Can I go on holiday in the summer break? 

This is a potentially complex issue and as such, there are a number of issues to be mindful of. It is worth remembering that teachers’ terms and conditions are covered by the Burgundy Book, and school support staff are covered by the NJC Green Book

Schools will be concerned about staff returning from abroad and requiring quarantine, which could have implications for the start of the autumn term. School leaders and managers should have conversations with all their teaching and support staff as early as possible about the potential impact of the governmental requirement to isolate when returning from abroad. 

School support staff 

The ‘Green Book’ sickness scheme (Part 2 Para 10.9) says: 

10.9 “An employee who is prevented from attending work because of contact with infectious disease shall be entitled to receive normal pay. The period of absence on this account shall not be reckoned against the employee’s entitlements under this scheme.” 

Teaching staff 

The Burgundy Book has paragraphs relating to sickness in relation to infectious diseases: Section 4 Sick Pay Scheme, Paragraph 10 ‘Contact with infectious diseases’ and 10.3 says: 

10.3A teacher residing in a house in which some other person is suffering from an infectious disease shall at once notify the employer and the teacher shall, if required, take such precautions as may be prescribed, provided that if in the opinion of the approved medical practitioner it is considered inadvisable, notwithstanding such precautions, for such teacher to attend duty, full pay shall be allowed during any enforced absence from duty, such pay being sick pay for the purpose of paragraphs 3 to 7.5 above. 

"This provision will also apply where, in the opinion of an approved medical practitioner, it is inadvisable for a teacher to attend duty for precautionary reasons due to infectious disease in the workplace. The period of the absence under this paragraph shall not be reckoned against the teacher’s entitlement to sick leave under paragraph 2 above, though such absences are reckonable for entitlements to Statutory Sick Pay.” 

If an employee is required to self-isolate or is placed in quarantine (after displaying covid-19 symptoms for example), the Burgundy Book and NJC provision’s (detailed above) should be applied. 


Whilst the above provisions remain in place when you are working, if you have taken a foreign holiday and arrive in the UK on or after 8 June 2020, you will not be allowed to leave the place you’re staying for the first 14 days.  Therefore, from this point forward, school staff travelling abroad do so in full knowledge of the quarantine requirements on returning to the UK.  School staff are therefore advised to check carefully before they make any bookings 

Managers should have open conversations with staff about the potential impact of any holiday plans and how these be best managed locally if staff are considering travelling abroad this summer. 

In the first instance, school managers should talk openly with the individual and consider whether working from home during the quarantine period is practical and feasible. For example, where you cannot work at home, is it possible to redeploy you onto alternative duties that you could carry out at home. 

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this issue and we expect school leaders take full account of the need to maintain positive employment relations during these extraordinary times and to give more sympathetic consideration to certain circumstances which could include: 

  • an employee who has extenuating circumstances, such as a family funeral abroad. 
  • pre-booked holidays that cannot be cancelled without incurring significant financial cost that were arranged before quarantine could have been envisaged. 
  • pre-booked holidays that the tour operator has not cancelled and has instead rescheduled on fixed dates which, if cancelled by the customer, would be at financial cost to them.  

However, where this is not feasible, school leaders may have to consider asking staff to: 

  • take additional paid annual leave 
  • take paid special leave 
  • make up the leave over a period of time 
  • take unpaid special leave 
  • take unpaid annual leave  

These arrangements must be clear to the employee before they embark on leave that will require quarantine. 

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