This could be a difficult time, cashflow wise, for your Employer. So we encourage you to have an open conversation with them, to find a win-win option. Whilst you could resign, and you would be entitled to receive in your last pay, any outstanding leave payments, there is no guarantee that the business you work will have the funds immediately available for payment. Please note that you are not entitled to any accrued sick leave entitlements if you resign.
Normally a business would have been accruing annual leave and putting aside the required funds (like how they should be treating things like taxes) however during these difficult times businesses may have drawn from reserves. You rightly should ensure that you receive your entitlements. At the same time, we encourage you to think about the potential impacts of resigning to you and others. It is always best, for you, when you can leave an employer on a positive note.
Just to confirm – do you work a 40-hour week? If so, 550 hours of Annual Leave Entitlement would be 13.75 weeks of annual leave that have been accumulated. The leave balance should never have been gone this high. It is important that for your welfare that you take 4 weeks annual leave each year.
Do you only earn 4 weeks Annual Leave per year? If the answer is yes, then when was the last time you took annual leave for at least 2 weeks consecutively? An Employee has a right to take 2 weeks annual leave in a row at least once per year, and an Employer cannot unreasonably refuse this. The relevant Holidays Act 2003 excerpt reads:
“Section 18 – Taking of annual holidays
(1) An employer must allow an employee to take annual holidays within 12 months after the date on which the employee’s entitlement to the holidays arose.
(2) If an employee elects to do so, the employer must allow the employee to take at least 2 weeks of his or her annual holidays entitlement in a continuous period.
(3) When annual holidays are to be taken by the employee is to be agreed between the employer and employee.
(4) An employer must not unreasonably withhold consent to an employee’s request to take annual holidays.”
If you have earnt more than 4 weeks annual leave per year, which would be over and above legislative provisions, this can be cashed out at the Employer’s discretion. If you want to stay with the employer, then you discuss this with them and look at ways to either use and/or be paid out some of the leave.
If your Employer continues to turn down your requests, and you cannot come to an agreement, then you do have potential to raise a grievance against your Employer. Prior to this point we would encourage an open dialogue with your employer to see if an agreeable solution can be reached.