When should you start your holiday year?

  • Leave and Absence
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

Experts at BrightHR estimate that 77% of UK businesses reset their annual leave in January.

If you’re one of those companies, you might think lining up leave with the calendar year makes your workplace easier to manage. But it can derail your business at what may even be one of your most profitable times of the year: Christmas.

That’s because workers often scramble to take any remaining holiday entitlement before the leave year ends in December. Especially if they can’t carry holiday over into the next year.

This can leave your workforce seriously stretched over the festive period.

So what are your alternatives?

Use the financial year

Instead, many businesses link their leave to the financial year, which runs from April to March.

This could make writing your business’s financial reports easier. For example, you’ll be able to include more accurate holiday pay figures on your balance sheet for the new financial year.

Running the leave year from April to March could help you avoid the Christmas holiday crunch, too.

But if Easter falls before April then you might suffer another staff exodus, when workers rush to book leftover leave around the bank holidays for an extra-long break.

Luckily, there’s another way.

Stagger staff leave

There’s no law to say all your employees, or even staff in the same department, must have the same leave year.

So, to prevent end-of-year bottlenecks, you can choose to stagger annual leave. Some staff could work on a January to December basis, others on a June to May year—and so on.

However, this method could cause staff disputes. Some workers might prefer a different leave pattern to the one you’ve given them—they may find a calendar leave year easier to keep on top of, for instance.

And they could begin to resent colleagues with a more ‘desirable’ holiday pattern, sapping your workplace’s morale and productivity.

So what if everyone had a different leave system?

Base leave on employees’ start dates

You could begin each staff member’s leave year on the date they started work at the company.

In fact, unless you spell out otherwise in the employee’s contract, by law their leave entitlement will always begin on their start date.

If you run a holiday accrual system, where a worker’s holiday allowance builds up over their first year of work, using start dates may save you a lot of time and effort.

For example, if an employee starts partway through a calendar leave year, there won’t be any tricky calculations for how much time off they’ll accrue.

But given that most staff start work on different dates, it’ll be tough to keep track of each staff member’s start date and holiday allowance. Without some support, at least…

Manage staff holidays the easy way

However you decide to run your business’s annual leave, there’s one tool guaranteed to help.

BrightHR’s award-winning staff management software works out staff holiday entitlements so you don’t have to.

You get automatic leave calculations and instant alerts for any clashes—halting any holiday chaos before it has a chance to happen.

Plus, you can approve or decline holiday requests anytime, anywhere, with the free BrightHR smartphone app.

Learn why 328,137 people use BrightHR to make their annual leave easy. Speak to an expert on 0800 028 2420 today.


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