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Annual Leave Carry over RM policy – Use it or Lose it

No. 233/23


12th September 2023

Dear Colleagues


Annual Leave Carry over RM policy – Use it or Lose it


Branches will be aware that the CWU and Royal Mail have been engaging on the issue of carry over leave since 2017 with a view to ensuring leave cards are accurate and our members get every opportunity possible to take their leave.


During the recent dispute we were made aware that managers were being advised that the carry over system would be formalised electronically on PSP. This has meant that managers have had to go onto PSP to authorise the carryover of leave in excess of 5 days. Reps and members will be aware that our agreements allow for up to 5 days carry over without management agreement and that in excess of 5 days must be authorised. We have for many years had a situation where carry over leave has just carried over and no real discussions or authorisation processes have applied until 2023.


We were approached recently by management as they intended to invoke a further system whereby employees who have carry over leave currently above the 5 days will be given a defined period to use that leave or lose it. This will apply to all grades across RMG.

We have registered our opposition many times to this approach which has changed the business position in making it far easier for our members to take their carry over entitlement in a reasonable period.


We have also managed to get Royal Mail to agree to exceptions to this policy that will go some way to protecting our members, nevertheless there is still a risk that our members may find themselves in a situation where their carry over contractual leave is removed.

Management have continually expressed the position that it is not about employees losing their leave but it is about employees taking their leave. We have no opposition to our members being able to take their full annual leave entitlement; however, we are opposed to the forced removal.


As part of our representations we have stated that, if employees have their annual leave removed and management cannot evidence that the employee has chosen not to take their leave by all means possible or that management have refused employees being able to use their leave, that this will result in grievances and potentially breach of contract claims to an Employment Tribunal.


Management acknowledge this position however they are not permitting managers to make an exception for carry over leave caused by operational requirements. This approach is a potentially positive position as it will force managers to give the leave or face grievances against them personally.


Both parties have committed to a monthly meeting where we will discuss how leave discussions are progressing where leave sits and any problem offices identified.

In terms of the numbers of employees with carry over leave this can be broken down as follows;


Operations, Central Functions including Parcel Force, RMPFS, HR International etc.


Up to 5 days 67,518, These are agreement compliant and unaffected by this approach.

  1. More than 5 days to 15 days 22,684 Who will fall into the end of August 2024 category

  2. More than 15 days to 50 days 5086. These employees will fall into the category of end of August 2025

The final group which are more extreme leave carry over levels are 10-40+ weeks carry over and this number sits at 301.


The individuals/groupings as detailed above will be required to use their leave in this period of time or through discussions and circumstances with their line manager to agree an exception within the 3 categories.


The Members and representatives should be aware that annual leave is used in the following ways when leave is taken:

  1. Any blocks of leave taken are deducted from the carry over leave entitlement first

  2. Further Leave taken is deducted from the Purchased leave entitlement

  3. Remaining leave taken is then removed from the renewed annual leave entitlement.

This means that if an employee has the maximum of 3 weeks carry over leave from 2023 into 2024, the said employee will have 5 months to use those 3 weeks. This should be achievable, due to the pecking order. Those in excess of this will have 17 months between April 2024 and August 2025 to use their leave.


We intend to monitor this closely and a spreadsheet exists which details by unit the number of employees in each group and the amount of leave. The intention is to share to relevant divisional and territorial reps for them to ensure we engage properly to achieve the following:

  1. Members are afforded the leave;

  2. Resourcing arrangements are in place to cover the workload; and

  3. Support members where managers are not behaving correctly through use of the Grievance procedure and where appropriate legal processes.

Finally, to ensure that we look at improvements to the annual leave systems and processes/agreements it is the intention to relaunch the Annual leave JWG.


Yours sincerely,

Andy Furey

A/Deputy General Secretary (Postal)


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