Managing staff holidays at the start of a new leave year

Peninsula Team

February 14 2019

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Staff often look forward to the start of a new leave year at the thought of using a replenished holiday entitlement to plan time off for the year ahead. However, from an employer’s perspective there are a number of things to consider and it is important to have a clear structure in place to manage leave effectively.

Generally, it is considered key that employers have a policy in place which focuses specifically on annual leave. This will allow companies to outline their specific approach towards annual leave, including how many days’ holiday staff are allowed each year. It will also act as an important guide for staff who may have queries regarding the annual leave process and reduce the likelihood of requests being submitted incorrectly and ultimately having to be refused.

Employers can outline certain rules around annual leave to maintain order, including whether there is a limit to the amount of staff who may be on leave at the same time. Although this will naturally differ depending on the size of the workforce, many companies have a cap on how many individuals from the same department are allowed to be off at once. Employers are free to choose their own approach here, however a degree of flexibility may be beneficial under specific circumstances.

Employers should inform staff of the correct procedure for booking annual leave, including who requests should be submitted to, whether there is an electronic booking system and how much notice is required. In regards to the latter, employers often confirm their rules on notice in employee contracts. However, if there is no mention of this then the statutory minimum will apply, meaning staff will need to provide notice of at least twice as long as the holiday they wish to take e.g. two weeks’ notice for one weeks’ holiday. It should not be assumed that staff will automatically be aware of these requirements, especially if they are new to an organisation, and it is advisable to inform them of this during any induction or on boarding process.

There may also be certain periods throughout the year where leave it not allowed. Many employers, such as those in the retail industry, have such rules in place in the lead up to Christmas to ensure they can deal with increased customer demand. It is important that staff are made aware of any similar rules to avoid disappointment and to allow them to plan their leave effectively throughout the remainder of the year.

Employers should keep an eye on holiday requests to ensure staff are using their full entitlement. Although it is great to have employees who are committed to work, taking regular time away from work has been proven to be beneficial for an individual’s long term health. Therefore, employers should always encourage staff to utilise their entitlement by ensuring workloads are not too excessive and reminding them that they may have to forfeit any untaken leave at the end of the leave year.

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