Irish businesses are facing potential disruption over annual leave later this year, data compiled by HRLocker has revealed.
Analysis of 500 companies by HRLocker, a Co Clare-based human-resources software company, showed that during the height of the coronavirus lockdown in April and May, employees made only 26,000 requests to take annual leave.
During the same two-month period in 2019, roughly 41,000 requests were submitted to take annual leave at the same companies. The data for May 2020 showed that employees used 39 per cent less paid time off compared to the same month in 2019.
In addition, a relatively low level of time-off requests have been logged for July and August. However, HRLocker said more workers may still lodge requests for holidays.
Crystel Robbins Rynne, head of product and marketing at the company, said a high proportion of workers were heading into September with four weeks of annual leave to take. She said clients have contacted HRLocker looking for advice in relation to this.
“Employers should know that if somebody is cancelling leave because their holiday has been cancelled, it doesn’t mean you as an employer have to let them cancel the leave,” she said. “It’s at an employer’s discretion.”
Robbins Rynne said clients had also faced instances of workers not accruing enough annual leave days to take holidays later in the year. Workers who were laid off short-term and were on the Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment have not been accruing any annual leave.
“One customer has an employee who has wedding leave booked for the month of October, but they no longer have the amount of leave accrued to take it. In that situation, we would say to talk to the employee and come to some kind of agreement,” she said.
Ger Connolly, employment law partner at Mason Hayes & Curran, said the firm’s clients had also sought advice on annual leave in recent weeks. He said employers had asked if they can ensure that a certain number of days are not carried over to next year.
“An employer can request that an employee take leave,” Connolly said. “The Organisation of Working Time Act (1997) provides that the timing of an employee’s annual leave can be determined by the employer ‘having regard to work requirements’. We believe this gives employers the right to compel their employees to take annual leave.”
However, employers are obliged to consult with their employees 30 days before the start of the annual leave in order to avail of this provision.
Britain has recently relaxed rules on annual leave due to the coronavirus pandemic, allowing workers to carry over holiday days into 2021. However, Connolly said Ireland had not proposed any such legislation.