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Shielding and Annual Leave

View profile for Catherine Almeida
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With the UK back in national lockdown and shielding reintroduced in England and Wales we are receiving a number of questions from our clients on this subject. We have put together this useful Q & A to help both employers and employees with the most frequently asked questions regarding shielding and annual leave :-  

Q - I have been shielding and am on furlough leave. I have noticed on my payslip my employer has deducted annual leave from me without my knowledge. Can they do this? 

Employers can require employees to take annual leave even if you are on furlough. The statutory rules require you to be provided with at least twice as much notice as the time off they require you to take, however, you may have an internal policy that is different and this should be followed if more generous. This should be communicated to you in advance of the leave period. If you have been required to take annual leave during furlough you must be paid at 100% of your usual rate of pay for this period, your employer can still submit a claim for 80% of salary however.

Q - I am shielding what will I get paid?

It will be mostly typical that the same employees will shield as the first time it was introduced. However, there may be employees who have had a significant change in circumstances that now require them to shield. In this scenario the employer can offer them alternative duties they can complete from home or where this is not possible, offer them furlough leave. The rules around furlough have recently been updated to reflect this following the introduction of shielding for a second period. Employees on furlough leave receive 80% of their pay up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

Q - Can my employer force me to take my annual leave during furlough whilst I am shielding?

An employer is able to do this provided the correct notice is provided. This is generally twice as much time as they wish you to take off (unless your company policy is more generous) e.g. 2 days’ notice for one days leave.

Q – If I am shielding and on furlough, will my annual leave still be paid at 100%?

Your employer must pay you 100% of your usual salary for annual leave days, including bank holidays. 

If you are an employer with employees on furlough you will need to top up the furlough payment to100% for those taking annual leave.

Q – If I am shielding, what happens to the bank holidays?

For employees who are shielding and able to work from home, it will usually be treated the same as if they had been in the workplace and working and the usual arrangements for that employer will apply. 

For employees who are shielding and on furlough leave the employer can either insist Bank Holidays are taken in the usual way ensuring the employee is paid 100% of their usual pay for this day.  As an alternative they can offer to allow the employee to add the Bank Holiday to their leave entitlement and for them to take it at a time when shielding has ended, however, there is no obligation on employers to do this.

Employers should also ensure they treat bank holidays fairly across this workforce to minimise potential discrimination based issues. 

Q – If I feel that my employer has not acted within the law who should I contact in the first instance?

As rules and deadlines change it is a very confusing time for employers and employees and therefore we would always encourage an informal approach in the first instance, it could easily be an oversight on your employer’s part. If this approach doesn’t resolve the matter you could consider your employer’s grievance process. You may choose to seek legal advice or you can contact the Citizens Advice Bureau or ACAS (the latter 2 can offer free advice).  

Q – I am an employer without a full time dedicated HR department. Do you offer any retainer packages that can assist my office manager on a short term basis with Covid and other HR related issues?

Yes we do. If you are an employer and would like to find out more about our Covid Support HR package please contact us.

For more information contact our Employment & HR Services team on 03333 208644 or email