Annual leave: Am I legally allowed to carry work holidays over into the next year?

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The working year is a long stretch, but those precious days of annual leave help to break up the tough slog for a bit of well-earned rest.

With annual leave being restricted to just a small number of days, it’s natural to want to hang on to them for as long as possible – but can they be carried over into the next year?

Many companies will only permit any unused annual leave to be carried over in exceptional circumstances

Many companies will only permit any unused annual leave to be carried over in exceptional circumstances

Unused allowance

If you don’t get around to using up all of your annual holiday allowance by the end of the year, it raises the question as to whether these days can be carried over and taken in the following year instead.

But is it legally allowed?

Employment expert Alan Price told The Mirror, “Although staff typically use the summer months to take the majority of their annual leave, there may be employees who still have a considerable amount of annual leave remaining as we head into autumn.

Some workers are entitled to carry over their annual leave irrespective of where they work

Some workers are entitled to carry over their annual leave irrespective of where they work

“Some staff may be under the impression they can carry over any unused annual leave into the next year of annual leave.

“However, unfortunately, this is not the case and employers can determine the extend to which individuals can carry over any unused annual leave entitlement.”

Dependent on company policy

Many companies will only permit any unused annual leave to be carried over in exceptional circumstances, which will usually be outlined in your employment contract.

This means the decision will rest on company policy, or at your manager’s discretion.

“Their decision may vary depending on the size of the organisation and smaller employers may struggle to accommodate this,” added Price.

“The prospect of extended time off in the next leave year could leave them short-staffed and unable to meet customer demand.

“That said, certain employers may be inclined to show a degree of flexibility when it comes to carrying over a small amount of annual leave, especially if staff plan to use them soon after the start of the next year of annual leave.”

A different rule for some

While most workers don’t have the right to carry over their annual leave into the following year, some are entitled to do so, irrespective of where they work.

Price explained, “The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that employees should be entitled to carry forward to the next annual leave year if they have been unable to take them due to sickness.

“However, this will only apply to the first four weeks of an employee’s 5.6 weeks’ statutory leave entitlement, as this is the minimum amount stated under the European Working Time Directive.”