This guidance has been prepared to assist in the management of annual leave during the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and is in line with national guidance.

It is expected that, where possible, employees will take their annual leave as normal between now and the end of the current leave year. This is important for two reasons:

  • Employees need to take time out to rest and recuperate, particularly during a period where they may be experiencing increased levels of anxiety; and
  • It will be difficult to manage significant numbers of employees cancelling and rescheduling leave or carrying forward large amounts of accrued leave into subsequent leave years.

To help with the management of annual leave, the following should be applied.

  • New leave requests should be considered and approved, wherever possible, subject to service delivery needs. It is important that you ensure that employees are not working for protracted periods without a break.
  • The proportionate use of annual leave across the calendar year can be a health and safety and wellbeing concern. It is good practice to encourage employees, including those working from home, to use a proportionate amount of leave entitlement during this period where this is possible.
  • To ensure wellbeing, employees should be encouraged to take half of their leave entitlement by the end of August. Managers should be flexible where reasonable periods of leave are already booked for September and October for instance. From a wellbeing perspective, as a minimum, we would anticipate that all employees will have used 10 days by end of August.

Carry over

  • In line with national agreements, it was agreed that services can allow the carry forward of leave of up to 20 days untaken leave (pro rata) into the 2021 and 2022 leave years.
  • This 20 day carry over should however only be required in extreme situations and limited to essential/keyworkers where, due to service demand, leave requests have been refused/unable to be accommodated.
  • In other areas the carry forward was limited to 10 days. This recognised the benefits of taking leave on employee wellbeing but also recognised that individuals may have delayed taking the majority of their leave due to lockdown arrangements.

We would however in the 2021 leave year anticipate that the need to carry over 10 days to 2022 will be limited and employees should be encouraged to use leave as normal.

Holidays abroad/Self-isolation and quarantine periods

Currently employees choosing to go abroad on holiday to certain areas will require to follow Scottish Government guidance depending on where they have returned to Scotland from. This will depend if the country or area they are arriving from are on the red, amber or green travel list. You should in all cases follow the Scottish Government's advice on International Travel available at Coronavirus (COVID-19): international travel and quarantine.

Where an employee makes a personal decision to go on holiday abroad, they need to consider the implications for their job/work before reaching a decision.

SJC, Craft & CO

Holidays booked knowing that self-isolation/quarantine arrangements may be required – what happens?

SJC, Craft and COs who book a holiday and who are required to isolate after travelling abroad - where it's possible and where line manager is in agreement, should work from home. If working from home is not possible, then they will need to use annual leave or unpaid leave to cover the self-isolation/quarantine period (including the period until a negative result is confirmed after the 2nd day post return PCR test) as special leave will not be granted in these circumstances. As an alternative to unpaid leave, you can consider if there are any additional hours or work that could help make up the lost time. This will be subject to work being available/required.

SNCT staff

Holidays booked knowing that self-isolation/quarantine arrangements may be required – what happens?

Teachers and Music Instructors who have booked or who book holidays and who are required to isolate after travelling abroad, should discuss this situation with their line manager as soon as possible. Where possible arrangements should be made for working at home during the period of self-isolation (including the period until a negative result is confirmed after the 2nd day post return PCR test). If this is not possible agreement on how the time could be paid back during the school year should take place.

Other Associated Professionals covered by the SNCT agreements, not working within schools, will be required to discuss annual leave or self-isolation/quarantine arrangements (including the period until a negative result is confirmed after the 2nd day post return PCR test) with their line manager, which may include working from home, annual leave or unpaid leave.

You should ensure you follow Foreign Commonwealth advice regarding foreign travel.

Future action

  • Managers should review leave taken to date and leave booked and contact employees to discuss and agree what leave can be taken during this period taking into account service delivery requirements and the need for employees to be able to rest and recharge. Personal circumstances need to be taken into account on how best to offer support – for some that will be a break from work, for others taking leave might exacerbate feelings of isolation and may not be the best outcome for that individual. Attention needs to be paid to employees' mental, as well as physical, health needs.
  • Employees should be encouraged to take half of their leave by the end of August. Managers should be flexible where reasonable periods of leave are already booked for September and October for instance. From a wellbeing perspective, as a minimum, we would anticipate that all employees will have used 10 days by end of August.
  • Employees should be reminded of the leave carry over limits.

Given the changing circumstances to the COVID-19 situation, these arrangements will be kept under regular review.