Over the summer months it has been good to see that staff have managed to take increasing amounts of annual leave and to take a break from work. This is vitally important for us all in maintaining our health and well-being at this time.
Whilst there has been an increase in the annual leave that staff have recently been taking however, we are understandably still below the levels that we would expect to see at this time of year. We therefore strongly encourage everyone to continue to take their annual leave wherever possible over the forthcoming months.
We acknowledge that in some areas of the organisation it will be a challenge for staff to take all their annual leave in the current leave year. We have therefore amended our normal policy for the carry-over of annual leave. This is in line with the Government’s introduction of the Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020.
It is important to note that for most staff we anticipate that they will be able to take their leave and so we expect that the usual policy of carrying-over up to 5 days annual leave will be sufficient.
However, for a small number of staff where the impact of Covid-19 has not allowed them to take their leave, it will be possible to carry forward up to a maximum of 20 days For example, if you have an annual entitlement to 30 days and you have only been able to take 10 days in the current leave year, it will be possible to carry over the remaining 20 days.
We would encourage all staff to discuss any difficulties in taking annual leave with their line manager. If it is agreed that it is not reasonably practicable to take annual leave in the normal way due to the need to support the Covid 19 response, then staff will be able to carry over their leave. This will need to be approved by the line manager and they will be expected to take the carry-over leave in a phased manner over the next two years, again in agreement with the line manager.
It is recognised that the 2019/2020 annual leave year may still be running for some medical staff. Where it has not been reasonably practicable for these staff to take their leave, due to the ongoing response to Covid-19, they too will be able to carry-over up to a maximum of 20 days, with the approval of their line manager.
It is important to note however that this amendment to the policy for the carry-over of leave will only apply where it has not been reasonably practicable for staff to take their annual leave, due to the needs of the service, as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic. This policy amendment cannot be used in circumstances where staff wish to cancel or postpone annual leave as they are, or have been, unable to use it to go away on holiday etc.
In exceptional circumstances, we recognise there will be a need for some individuals to exceed this level of carry-over and this can be agreed by exception with the relevant Executive Director.
The position for Doctors and Dentists in training remains as set out in the nationally agreed “Joint Statement on junior doctor leave during Covid-19”.
For staff subject to Agenda for Change conditions, we will also be relaxing the advice around the taking of Time off in Lieu (TOIL). Staff are normally advised to take TOIL within three months of accruing the hours, however in order to provide greater flexibility this advice is now being extended to six months. Line managers will continue to oversee the accrual of hours and agree the taking of TOIL.
For medical and dental staff, the position regarding TOIL is currently being discussed with the JMDNC and the Assistant Secretary of the British Medical Association Cymru Wales
Finally, we wish to thank all staff for their commitment and endeavours over the last seven months and whilst we acknowledge that it may be difficult to take leave over the coming months we would ask staff to continue to be mindful of their own health and well-being, and to plan and take annual leave wherever possible.