Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection

Departmental Staff

Photo of Michael MoynihanMichael Moynihan (Cork North West, Fianna Fail)
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1227. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if her Department will implement initiatives to allow employees to carry forward annual leave that they have accrued during the Covid-19 crisis; if she has examined the possibility of such an initiative; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [5979/20]

Photo of Willie O'DeaWillie O'Dea (Limerick City, Fianna Fail)
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1233. To ask the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection if consideration is being given to enable workers who have not taken some or all of their statutory annual leave entitlement due to Covid-19 to be able to carry weeks of accrued but untaken annual leave over into the next two leave years as is allowed for in the UK; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6068/20]

Photo of Regina DohertyRegina Doherty (Meath East, Fine Gael)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 1227 and 1233 together.

The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 sets out the key parameters for the taking of annual leave and payment for same. The terms and conditions of individual employment contracts may provide additional specifics within those parameters such as stipulations in relation to the taking of minimum blocks of leave and the timing of leave.

Section 20 of the Act of 1997 in essence provides that the employer determines the timing of an employee’s annual leave, taking into consideration work and personal requirements.  It also provides that the employer should consult the employee or the relevant trade union at least one month in advance.

Workers and employers, most of whom have now been engaging for several weeks in reaching reasonable arrangements and accommodations in the current extraordinary circumstances, are encouraged to continue doing so in a constructive manner.  Complaints in relation to employers attempting to impose more restrictive terms than are provided by statute or in the terms and conditions of the individual employment contract should be made to the Workplace Relations Commission.

It is understood that the strong legislative provisions already in place allow sufficient flexibility for employees and employers to navigate current events in the context of annual leave and, therefore, no legislative amendments are proposed at this juncture.  

My Department continuously monitors existing employment rights legislation to ensure that it continues to be relevant and fit for purpose and is updated to reflect international developments at European Union, Court of Justice and International Labour Organisation level.

Where any new legislation is proposed, my Department engages in extensive consultation with all relevant stakeholders, to ensure that an appropriate balance is struck between the rights of workers and the interests of business.

I hope this clarifies matters for the Deputies.

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