How taking annual leave can boost your furlough pay

FURLOUGHED workers may be able to boost their reduced income by taking annual leave.

The government it currently paying 80 per cent – up to £2,500 a month – of the wages for around 6.3million workers who have been enrolled in the coronavirus jobs retention scheme.

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The scheme offers financial support for those who are unable to work during the pandemic lockdown, and companies are encouraged to top up furloughed staff salaries to 100 per cent but this isn't a legal requirement.

As a result, millions of workers have been forced to take a pay cut.

The government has previously outlined that staff can accrue and take holiday if they've been furloughed, in the same way they would in normal working conditions.

It might not be a popular choice to take days of your holiday entitlement at a time when you can't use it to actually go away, but it can increase your pay packet if you need the cash.

Holiday pay – what happens if you can't take holiday

HERE'S what options you have if you're unable to take holiday.

When can your boss deny your holiday request?

As a general rule you need to give your boss a notice period of twice the amount of time you are taking for your holiday.
For example if you request five days of holiday you have to provide a minimum of ten days’ notice.
Your boss can force you to take holiday at certain times of year like Christmas and New Year or bank holidays when your workplace may be closed.
Companies can also set limits on how many days in a row you can take off to stop just taking a whole month off at once.

My boss won't let me take any of the dates off that I have suggested

See how much time off the people you work with have taken off as well as how far in advance they let their boss know they were going to take time off.

See if they got similar treatment or if you are being unfairly treated.
You have a statutory right to your holiday and if you feel that is being infringed upon you can go to court.

Before you make a claim you need to talk to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas).
They will try one last time to reconcile the issue, and if that fails they will give you guidance on how to make an employment tribunal claim

How do I calculate my holiday entitlement? 

You can use this tool to calculate your holiday entitlement depending on your work status.

This is because annual leave has to be paid in full, so your employer will have to top up the remaining 20 per cent for these days.

For example, if you earn £25,000 a year and you're entitled to the full £12,500 personal allowance, then your weekly take home pay is £396.92.

But if you've been furloughed, this will be reduced to £331.54.

So five days annual leave in the same month will add £65.38 to your take home pay, whether this be monthly or weekly.

The same rules apply if your job doesn't normally require you to work bank holidays.

"If staff are contractually entitled to take bank holidays, they should be paid in full for any bank holidays that fall during a period of furlough," explains Alan Price, human resources expert at BrightHR.

"This means that if the May Day bank holiday is still designated as a bank holiday for people on furlough, full pay will be needed on Friday May 8."


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If your employer can't afford to top up your salary on the bank holiday, it may ask you to take the day in lieu when you return to your full salary but you must give your formal consent before this can go ahead.

Unfortunately, if you don't normally get bank holiday's off then you only need to be paid the 80 per cent rate for it while on furlough.

Full time employees working a five day week must receive 28 days – or 5.6 weeks – paid annual leave a year.

Part-time staff are also entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid annual leave but this will be fewer than 28 days.

For example, if you work three days a week then you are entitled to 16.8 days leave a year (3×5.6) because that's how long your working week is.

Employers have to agree to when annual leave can be taken and they must be given appropriate warning, for example, you should give at least two weeks' notice for a week of holiday.

They don't have to agree to your request to take time off during furlough and can ask that you postpone it to a later date.

Normally, employers have a legal obligation to make sure staff take their statutory entitlement in any one year or face a financial penalty.

But the government has introduced a temporary new law allowing workers to carry over up to four weeks' paid holiday over a two-year period if they can't take it due to the pandemic.

Again, this will be up to your employer to let you do this.

Even though furlough is designed to keep workers employed, sadly it doesn't protect you from being made redundant.

Anthony Rose from legal start up SeedLegals warns that if you are let go from your job, you may have to pay back some of the holiday that you've taken.

He said: "If you are on furlough, your employer moves to make you redundant and you have taken more than your accrued holiday leave, you would be expected to repay this or have it deducted at source, depending on the wording of your employment contract."

If you've been furloughed and you're not sure what it means, we've put together a guide to how it affects your rights, including maternity leave and sick pay.


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