Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment
144. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if his attention has been drawn to the Organisation of Working Time (Amendment) (Carryover of Annual Leave) (Covid-19) Bill 2020 which was introduced on 26 November 2020 which seeks to allow workers to carry over untaken annual leave which they could not take due to the impact of Covid-19; if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that similar legislation has been passed for workers in the UK and Northern Ireland; and his views on similar legislation here. [43937/20]
The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 (OWTA) sets out an employee’s entitlement to annual leave and the terms around the taking of that leave. Under Section 20 of the Act, the times at which annual leave is taken is ultimately determined by the employer subject to the leave being granted within the leave year to which it relates, or, with the consent of the employee within the period of six months after the end of that leave year.
An employee’s entitlement to annual leave was introduced as a health and safety measure under the European Working Time Directive, which the OWTA transposed into Irish law. While there have been fewer opportunities for travel and recreation activities this year, it is still important that employees avail of annual leave to take a break, avoid burnout and maintain an appropriate work-life balance. This is even more true for those workers who have been engaged in front line or emergency work related to the pandemic and have been through an extremely stressful and challenging year.
My Department has not received any representations to date that would suggest that the carryover of annual leave is a particularly pressing issue for employees at this time. However, I have sought the views of the social partners on this matter via the Labour Employer Economic Forum (LEEF) sub-group on Employment and Enterprise. With regard to emergency workers I have received assurances from both the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the HSE that public sector and frontline workers have been encouraged to take annual leave throughout the pandemic.
If an employee believes they have been denied their right to take annual leave they may refer a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission.