Covid 19 Annual Leave and Public Holidays

03 February 2021


We have introduced new measures to support employees access and retain their entitlement to annual leave while NHS Scotland continue to respond to the significant increase in Covid 19 infections. Where possible trainees should continue to utilise their entitlement to annual leave to maintain wellbeing during the pandemic.

In response to this unprecedented demand on services you will find here updated guidance issued on carrying forward annual leave entitlement.   

What are the provisions for the use of my annual leave entitlement for 2020/21?

Maintaining the wellbeing of staff during the pandemic is essential and all efforts must continue to allow staff to take their annual leave, enabling time away from work to rest and recuperate.

Therefore, where possible, staff should still use their full entitlement, as per the provisions of the NES Annual Leave Policy and planned annual leave requests for the current 2020/21 year should be taken for the remainder of the leave year.

What if due to staff shortage or service demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I cannot take all my annual leave in 2020/21?

Whilst every effort should be taken for staff to be able to use up their annual leave entitlement before the end of March 2021, as per the normal provisions of NES’ Annual Leave Policy (which includes a maximum carry over of one week of basis contracted hours under certain circumstances), situations of staff shortage and increased demand for services due to the COVID-19 pandemic emergency may arise. 

Under these circumstances it may be necessary for managers to discuss with certain groups of staff either the cancelling or delaying of annual leave to manage the operational pressures across the service. 

  • As per the provisions outlined in DL(2021)03, the normal 5 day carry forward rule will not apply to staff who have been unable to take their annual leave because of the COVID-19 emergency, and therefore any member of staff who has untaken annual leave as at 31st March 2021 (including reasons such as sick leave) may carry the annual leave forward to the 2021/22 annual leave year.  Such staff should still aim to have taken at least their statutory leave of 28 days (includes 20 days of annual leave and 8 public holidays) by 31st March 2021. Where this has not been possible, line managers should discuss and agree a plan with staff for what annual leave may still be able to be taken this year to end March 21, and what will be carried forward in to the 2021/22 annual leave year. The option to request carry forward will become available on the Leave request page of the Annual Leave app from 15th February 2021 to 20th March 2021. Requests for carry forward should be submitted through the app by this date.  
  • Line manager should ensure that the approach taken is fairly and consistently applied taking account of the needs of individual, the entire team/department and service requirements.

Please note that the following principles have been agreed in partnership in NES:

  • Staff benefit from periods of annual leave and wherever possible any remaining leave should be taken before 31st March 2021 to support staff wellbeing.
  • Where there is staff shortage or increased demand for services in NES, this should be discussed across teams and Directorates to identify any other extra capacity available in the organisation.
  • Where there remains staff shortage/ service demand, line managers will review annual leave arrangements across teams and seek to minimise impact on wellbeing of asking staff to delay or cancel leave.
  • Line managers will discuss with individuals the impact of a requirement to cancel or delay annual leave, working together to agree a plan for when leave may be rescheduled and to agree how best to support health and wellbeing in the interim.
  • HR can be contacted for additional support/ guidance if required, via the Workforce Service desk.
  • Untaken annual leave as a result of staff shortage/ demand that is to be carried into 2020/21 should be recorded on the Annual Leave Application from 15th February to 20th March 2021.