The rules are very clear. So it comes under the working time directive, and the working time directive says that everybody has to have 5.6 weeks of their working weeks as annual leave within a calendar year. That’s a minimum. So if you give people more time, then anything above the 5.6 weeks could be carried forward.
So let’s use an example. You have a full-time member of staff, your holiday entitlement is 25 days (five weeks), plus public and bank holidays. In that case they can carry forward, depending on your company policy, up to five days. However, if you’re only giving people the statutory minimum, so again with that full-time of four weeks (20 days) plus the eight days public and bank holidays, therefore 5.6 weeks in total, then they’re not able to carry anything forward. If you do, you’re in breach of the law, and if you do for one, then obviously it sets a precedent for the others.
We would very strongly urge you to stick to your holiday policy. Whatever you have written down, whatever you’ve communicated, that’s what you need to stick to, and if you have a policy that says “no carry forward”, then make sure you warn people in enough time, if your holiday year is January to December, maybe September time write to everybody, remind them what they’ve got left, and remind them that they need to take it before the end of the year. They also can’t be paid out for it, it’s ‘a use it or lose it’ scenario, but as an employer you have a duty of care to make sure that they use it.