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The topic of annual leave has been on the agenda during the closure period. The issue now will be employees requesting to take annual leave before the end of December. We have set out some considerations below. Not all will be applicable [assuming the leave year is January to December].

  1. Review and see what leave entitlements employees have left to take before year end?
  2. Confirm the entitlement to employees.
  3. If you do not normally allow a carry over of annual leave is this something that could be considered – even if only a couple of days? It may assist you and it may suit the employee. You can determine the timeframe if carried over. For example, if 3 days are carried over you may want to confirm that they must be taken before Easter 2021 or within the first 6 months of 2021.
  4. If you have a number of people looking to take leave at the same time, then do you operate a 'first come first served' policy - this enables a fair process.
  5. You may have other staff that their annual leave is already determined due to the nature of their work for example staff working with ECCE year. Their annual leave is usually taken at Halloween, Christmas, Mid Term February, and Easter. There is less likely to be issues for these employees.
  6. You can determine the time employees take annual leave provided that you consult with them at least one month prior and be seen to take into account their opportunities for rest and family responsibilities.
  7. What about if an employee wants to take holidays outside of Ireland? At the moment that decision to travel outside Ireland rests with the employee and not the employer. The Government is currently advising that against all non-essential travel. Employers should check in regularly on the Department of Foreign Affairs advices on travel.
    1. Employees should be reminded that at the moment if they travel abroad, they will be required to 'self-isolate' for 14 days on their return. In this sector, working from home, is not really an option, as employers in the early years sector will require people to return as this becomes a staffing issue. If an employer is not in a position to authorise a leave request because it would leave them short staffed, they may confirm that they cannot authorise the leave.
    2. However, employers should confirm to employees travelling abroad that they will be required to self-isolate and they will be placed on unpaid leave on their return. Employees could be offered the option to take additional annual leave or other leave such as parental leave if appropriate.
  8. Employees should be reminded that even where employers are in receipt of TWSS payment the employment contract is still in place and there is a contractual relationship between the employee and employer.
  9. It may be prudent to review your Annual Leave policy and if necessary, add a section to the policy to reflect the current situation.