Business secretary Alok Sharma has announced that workers who have not taken all of their statutory annual leave entitlement due to COVID-19 will now be able to carry it over into the next two leave years.

Currently, almost all workers are entitled to 28 days holiday including bank holidays each year. However, most of this entitlement cannot be carried between leave years, meaning workers lose their holiday if they do not take it.

There is also an obligation on employers to ensure their workers take their statutory entitlement in any one year – failure to do so could result in a financial penalty.


The new measures announced by the business chancellor will allow up to four weeks of unused leave to be carried into the next two leave years, easing the requirements on business to ensure that workers take statutory amount of annual leave in any one year.

This will mean staff can continue working in the national effort against the coronavirus without losing out on annual leave entitlement.

The changes will also ensure all employers affected by COVID-19 have the flexibility to allow workers to carry over leave at a time when granting annual leave could leave them short-staffed in some of Britain’s key industries, such as food and healthcare.

During the same press conference Sharma announced changes to insolvency rules to prevent businesses unable to meet debts due to the impact of coronavirus from being forced to file for bankruptcy.

New measures will allow companies undergoing restructuring to continue to have access to supplies and raw materials, and pay staff and suppliers even if the company could go into liquidation due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The business secretary also announced a temporary suspension of “wrongful” trading laws for company directors to remove the threat of personal liability during the pandemic.

Sharma states: “These measures will give those firms extra time and space to weather the storm and be ready when the crisis ends, while ensuring creditors get the best return possible in the circumstances.”