Under the Working Time Regulations (WTR) workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks’ annual leave in each leave year, which is equivalent to 28 days for those who work five days a week.

Are you compliant?

If your employees’ contracts of employment state 28 days’ leave inclusive of bank holidays then you will already be compliant with the WTR despite the loss of 2 public holidays to the previous holiday year. It would however be sensible to bring your employees’ attention to the fact they will need to choose an additional 2 days’ leave in order to use up their entitlement.

If the employees’ contracts of employment state 20 days’ leave plus public holidays then it would be necessary to either increase the leave entitlement for this year only, or amend their contracts of employment so that their allowance is always 28 days’ leave inclusive of public holidays.

Temporary changes to employment contracts

It is vital that any temporary change to an employment contract is clearly documented and explained to the employee in writing. If you fail to do this then the employee might argue that the increased allowance had become an implied term of their employment contract and seek to claim the increase in future years.

Changing terms and conditions of employment

You cannot unilaterally impose changes on employees and it is therefore necessary to seek their consent to any changes. If consent is not forthcoming you would need to through a consultation process with the employees.

If you intend on changing the holiday year as part of the process you need either to have a miniature holiday year to bridge the gap or have an extended holiday year. For example if you wanted to move the holiday year so that it runs from 01 May instead of 01 April you would either need to have a miniature “holiday year” from 01 April till 30 April or extend the year so that in the first year it runs from 01 April 2016 to 30 April 2017. You would need to review the cumulative holiday entitlement to ensure compliance with the WTR and consider if any specific carry-over provisions need to be implemented.

If you need any further advice or assistance in ensuring compliance with the WTR our employment team would be happy to help.

Hazel Sanders is a paralegal and based in the employment team in Exeter. If you would like to contact Hazel, please call 01392 210700 or email employment@stephens-scown.co.uk.