The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown up many challenges for businesses. Severe and sustained travel restrictions, as well as other uncertainties, have resulted in many employees not taking time off and thus having significant accrued but untaken annual leave entitlements. This creates potential risk for companies. Productivity may be affected if employees all take extended or frequent breaks to use up rolled over leave when the situation eases. Similarly, risk management capability may be undermined if a large number of employees decide to take their leave at specific or peak times. So employers need to consider how to avoid risk and “log-jams” without breaching employee rights. In particular, if necessary, can they require employees to take or to forfeit annual leave?
The COVID-19 situation has caused increasing financial and operational difficulties for businesses. Various employers have either asked employees to take unpaid leave and/or annual leave during this period. This practice note examines the legal requirements for asking employees to take unpaid leave and/or annual leave.