Lisa Poole / Feature Articles

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How to manage holiday absence in the workplace

Summer Holiday Time for WorkersAre you prepared for the summer holiday season?

Legislation dictates that all employees who work 5 days per week are entitled to 5.6 weeks (28 days) of annual leave per year, including bank holidays. This is calculated pro rata for staff who work less days. You can offer additional days of holiday in your contracts of employment but not less.

Holidays can be a real strain on any business as we tend to employ the right number of staff to cover the work so when the team is a person down it’s likely that those remaining at work have to take up the slack.

To manage absence as efficiently as possible we, at HR Protocol, advise the following:

    1. Determine your minimum staffing level. You should decide how many staff you can allow off at the same time and when doing this take in to consideration what would happen if an employee was off sick at the same time. For example we have a client who will allow a maximum of 3 staff to take leave at the same time because they know that they have enough resource to cope with 2 staff of sick as well. Different areas of the business may have different minimum staffing levels, this does not have to be uniform but it should be consistent.
    2. Seasonal trends. You know the peaks and troughs of your business. Consider if there are certain times of year when you need to stipulate that staff cannot take holiday or when the minimum staffing level is greater than other times. This may also be for annual shutdowns and a Christmas break.
    3. Plan in advance. Ensure staff are aware of the notice you need to be given if their wish to take holiday and have a calendar visible so everyone can check who else is off to avoid clashes before they submit their request. Keep a record of leave taken and advise staff of how much leave they have left.
    4. Encourage staff to take all their holiday. The legislation provides that staff must take all of their holiday as it is important that they have time to relax and revive and avoid burn out. You are responsible for making this happen and to avoid an influx of holiday requests in the last month of the holiday year we advise you to encourage staff to take leave at regular intervals.
    5. Treat all requests fairly and consistently.
    6. You can refuse a holiday request. In this case you will need to give a written response explaining the business reasons why the leave is not possible. We would advise that first you have a face-to-face discussion and try to come up with a compromise.
    7. Incorporate all this into a procedure document. Have a robust and comprehensive policy and procedure in place and publicise it widely to ensure all staff of aware of it and then stick to it. There will sometimes be unusual requests that may need some flexibility but these should be the exception and not the norm.

If you need support for planning your staff absence and introducing some rules that fit your business needs we will be very pleased to assist. Contact Lisa on 01476 861884 and have a discussion.

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