Saturday 28 March 2020 4:55 pm

Coronavirus: Employees can defer annual leave for two years, says business secretary

Employees unable to take all their annual leave this year due to the coronavirus pandemic will be allowed to carry it over for two years, the business secretary announced today.

Alok Sharma, standing in for self-isolating Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the government’s daily briefing, said the government had introduced new measures to facilitate this.

Read more: Coronavirus UK: Death toll passes 1,000 after biggest daily increase

He said: “We’ve introduced measures to ensure that workers who have not taken all of their statutory annual leave due to COVID-19 will now be able to carry that entitlement over into the next two years.

“This will protect staff from losing out, while providing businesses with flexibility when they need it most.”

He praised businesses and workers for “delivering for our nation” during this period and said he “appreciates just how tough the situation is”.

Sharma revealed there would be new measures to improve the insolvency system to help businesses affected by the coronavirus crisis.

He said legislation will be introduced soon to allow UK companies to “weather the storm” of the virus.

There will also be a temporary suspension of wrongful trading provisions for company directors to remove the threat of personal liability.

He said “red tape” will be reduced to allow new hand sanitiser producers to market products “in a matter of days”.

Speaking from Downing Street, Sharma said: “We are also introducing a range of measures to boost the supply of personal protective equipment, such as face masks, to protect frontline NHS staff.

“And we’re removing administrative barriers to the production of hand sanitiser.

“By reducing the amount of red tape, new suppliers and businesses that produce ingredients for safe hand sanitiser will be able to bring their products to market in a matter of days.”

Read more: UK credit rating downgraded due to coronavirus impact and Brexit uncertainty

When asked whether he felt the UK’s response to the crisis was slower than other countries, Sharma disagreed.

The briefing came after it was revealed the UK had seen its biggest daily increase in deaths, with the total now standing at 1,019.

There are more than 17,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK from around 120,000 tests.