If I need to cut staff costs, can I just withdraw job offers?
If an applicant has accepted an offer, they will be entitled to paid notice if you withdraw it unilaterally, otherwise it is potentially a breach of contract.
Equally, the disappointed applicant may allege that the reason for withdrawing the offer was discriminatory.
Therefore, the safest course of action in this scenario is to set out the reasons for withdrawing an offer (namely, Coronavirus) and retain documentary evidence that supports the reasons for the decision to withdraw the offer.
Do I have to allow employees to cancel pre-booked annual leave?
No. Although employees may wish to cancel booked annual leave due to the impact of lockdowns, tiering and travel bans, there is no automatic right for them to cancel their time off unilaterally. The employer’s agreement is required.
However, do bear in mind the negative impact on employee morale and engagement if you require them to take pre-booked annual leave when they cannot go anywhere or do anything!
You should also bear in mind that employees are now permitted to carry forward (for two holiday years) up to four weeks’ holiday where it has not been “reasonably practicable” for them to take it in the relevant holiday year due to COVID-19. Although this was originally introduced by the Government to ensure that employees who could not take holiday due to the pandemic (e.g. critical workers) did not lose the ability to do so, it does apply to all employees, so your staff may throw this back at you!
We would, therefore, recommend a balanced approach, encouraging workers and employees to take paid holiday during the holiday year, if possible, and to use any carried forward leave as soon as they can.
These notes have been prepared for the purpose of an article only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice