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Annual leave | Covid-19 leave and absence | Birmingham City Council

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Annual leave

Key and critical workers

If managers grant annual leave, employees need to be made aware that it is conditional on the council being able to support the absence at the time. If annual leave is refused the appropriate amount of notice must be given, for example, if an individual has requested one week’s leave they must be given at least one week’s notice that the leave has not been approved – assuming the employee has provided the appropriate notice in the first place. Failure to give the requisite notice in these circumstances may constitute a breach of the Working Time Regulations 1998.

Managers can ask employees to cancel or postpone annual leave if it is necessary to maintain critical service delivery. However, they must give the appropriate notice as above. Managers may also agree to employees carrying over or being paid for leave they were unable to take by the end of their leave year; due regard should be given to individual circumstances and the impact of booked leave being cancelled.  At the end of the annual leave year, managers should consider where staff have not been able to take their annual leave due to Covid-19. In this exceptional circumstance the council will allow staff who have been asked to cancel, or not take leave, in order to meet unexpected demands in critical services, to carry forwards 10 days A/L in 19/20 and 20/21.

Employees who are not key/critical workers

Where staff had booked leave, and now wish to cancel, as they cannot go on holiday, this can be agreed by management, however, managers and staff must recognise the wellbeing benefits of time away from work. Staff must recognise that whilst they are being paid, they must be available to work, and may be deployed elsewhere in critical services.

Staff who are not key/critical workers must continue to take annual leaving during the lockdown period.  It is recommended that managers and staff seek to agree planned leave which ensures the equivalent of at least two days leave each month as staff should take breaks to support their wellbeing during a challenging period. Managers should encourage staff to schedule leave over the next three months to help plan activity and make sure that people are not working constantly over an extended period.  This also avoids building up a large amount of untaken leave, and lots of employees requesting significant amounts of holiday during a short period later in the year, if this situation arises it would not be appropriate for managers to approve the carry forward of additional leave.

Quarantine on returning to or entering the UK from abroad

The Foreign Office advice currently remains unchanged – people should not travel abroad other than for essential purposes.

From 8 June 2020, any person entering or returning to the UK from abroad is required to provide contact details and remain at the contact address provided for a period of 14 days from the date of entering the UK.

Booking and approving annual leave

Employees should ensure that when they book annual leave, they disclose whether or not they are travelling abroad in the comments section - this information is required to ensure that employees do not return to work following travel abroad without the manager’s knowledge therefore putting the health, safety and welfare of colleagues at risk.

Approval of annual leave is still at the employer’s discretion and should follow the normal principles of ensuring service delivery. When approving leave consideration should be given as to whether the employee is required to adhere to any period of quarantine in the country they are travelling to as well as the UK rules on returning.

Special consideration should be given to the reason for travel and whether there are any extenuating circumstances. The following situations may require additional flexibility in arrangements:

  • Travel abroad for a family funeral or the serious illness of a close family member
  • Holiday booked prior to the quarantine regime where cancellation would result in financial loss for the employee
  • Pre-booked holidays where the tour company have rescheduled for a fixed date where cancellation by the employee will result in a financial loss

In extreme circumstances it may not be possible to approve the leave request at the time because of the additional pressure the additional quarantine period places on the service. Employees should be encouraged to speak with their manager at the earliest opportunity and prior to booking travel abroad in order that a mutually convenient time and quarantine options can be agreed.

Options for employees during a quarantine period

The manager should consider all options with the employee to work from home during the 14-day quarantine period. This will include considering redeployment for 14 days for employees who cannot undertake their normal role at home (taking account of the individuals skills and experience, and their wishes). Individual arrangements must be agreed with the employee prior to sign off of annual leave requests. Only where all options for homeworking have been exhausted should other measures be implemented such as:

  • Taking additional annual leave from the employee’s entitlement
  • Flexi leave/TOIL
  • Unpaid leave
  • Option to make up some or all of the 14 days over a period of time to avoid a drop in pay
  • Purchase Annual Leave
  • Special leave – for extenuating circumstances only, as detailed above 

Sickness during the quarantine period

Should an employee become sick during the quarantine period, for any reason, they should report the absence in the normal way and sick pay will be applied. The employee will be paid sick pay only for the days on which they would be unable to work due to sickness absence.

Employees falling sick at any time during the quarantine period may be required to undergo a test for coronavirus.

Employees and managers must follow all sickness absence reporting procedures. The frequency of contact between the employee and manager will depend on the reason for absence, but should ensure that the point at which the employee would be fit to work is identified, and where applicable sick pay arrangements should cease during the 14 day quarantine period, if the employee is fit to work but cannot resume work due to ongoing quarantine.

Failure to follow or abuse of the above guidance could lead to formal disciplinary action being taken against you.

Purchased annual leave

If you have PAL for the 2019 to 2020 leave year, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may carry this leave over to the following holiday year. If you wish to carry this leave forward you should notify your line manager who should raise an AskHR query.

Please see further guidance on the Intranet.