The summer months are a bumper time for employees requesting holiday from work for various reasons – ranging from childcare to wanting to simply wanting to enjoy the hotter weather. But in the process of managing the flurry of advance requests, many employers forget to consider how to manage the workplace during high periods of leave…

Managers should be aware of who takes responsibility for the employee’s workload while they’re on holiday. In a small business this work may not be covered by anyone and if this is the case, you need to ensure this is communicated to the employee and check whether they’re aware of anything important cropping up which will need immediate handling during their leave.

Where someone else will take over their work for the holiday period, it’s important to ensure a smooth transition between the roles. This can be managed through a set handover procedure or by simply reminding the employee to handover their tasks. Before the employee goes on leave, make sure that the person taking over the work is happy with the tasks being delegated and knows what they’re required to do.

Need extra staff to help?

Where the heightened holiday absences coincide with a higher demand for business or services, employers may need to consider employing temporary workers to avoid a shortfall.

Any use of fixed term contracts should ensure that these end on an objective condition, usually a fixed date or upon the completion of an event. Care should be taken to ensure fixed term employees are not treated less favourably by reason of their fixed-term status, and the correct rights need to be given to temporary staff, dependent on their status as workers or employees.

Managing requests

Even though holidays are at maximum level, this may not stop employees from requesting to take annual leave over this period. Managers should be given training on how to decline requests and the required notice within which to do so.

If the employee is requesting holiday at short notice to deal with an emergency situation, for example a breakdown of childcare arrangements, employers can consider granting this short term request, even if the required notice is not given. It’s worth being aware though that this may create a precedent for granting requests without correct notice and when holidays are at maximum.

Alternatively, employers can remind the employee about their statutory right to time off for dependents for this situation. This type of leave is to be taken for emergencies and only covers the period of time where the employee is making alternative arrangements, not for future care cover.