POSTED: August 12 2019
Monitoring and encouraging employees to take annual leave

Monitoring and encouraging employees to take annual leave

For employers with an annual leave year which runs from January to December, now may be the perfect time to review the outstanding leave to be booked by your employees.  advo hr takes a closer look at the importance of ensuring that employees are regularly taking a break from work.

What is the importance of annual leave? Quite simply it allows employees to take regular breaks from work so they can rest and switch off from their work to accommodate a reasonable work-life balance. It should enable them to return to work more motivated and be more productive than those who do not take regular breaks. There may be less likelihood of these employees suffering from stress, which may also mean a reduction in sickness absence, in comparison to those who do not take regular annual leave breaks.

Some employers offer holiday trading schemes enabling employees to buy holiday, to allow for more days off with the cost deducted from the employee’s salary, or sell holiday back to the employer, with the employee receiving the value of their holiday back into their wages. By offering this flexible holiday time, employees may be more likely to book their holiday for special occasions and trips and therefore take regular breaks from work.

What is the legal stance?

Employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks’ statutory holiday each year. This is made up of an entitlement to four weeks under reg.13 of the Working Time Regulations 1998 and an additional 1.6 weeks under reg.13A. The four-week holiday entitlement under reg.13 may not be carried over into the next holiday year. The position with the additional 1.6 weeks’ holiday under reg.13A is different. This regulation allows for any of the additional holiday entitlement to be carried forward into the leave year immediately following the leave year in which it falls due if agreed by the employer.

However, the Regulations conflict with case law of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which has held that an employee should be able to carry over and use their 4 weeks’ statutory annual leave if it coincides with a period of sickness but must be taken within 18 months of the end of the year in which it accrued.
Back in February of this year, BUPA commented on a survey, which reported that “around 40 per cent of UK employees took just half of their annual leave entitlement during their last holiday year. The average employee took just 62 per cent of their allowance”. There needs to be a shift in mind set that annual leave is not a benefit, rather it is a necessary entitlement that employees should be encouraged to take.

Steps to take

As we are over half way through 2019 we would suggest that you review the outstanding annual leave and recommend that those employees book these remaining days. It should also help to avoid the December rush, where those with outstanding leave struggle to book this time off.

If you are relying on spreadsheets or paper forms to manage your annual leave for employees and are seeking a more streamlined, automated way to do this, please do get in touch as our advo Absence Management platform can record annual leave as well as other types of absence in a fuss-free way! We would be happy to demo this system for you.


If you would like more information on this topic or support with any wider HR issues then contact Carly Gregory on