Avoiding Holiday Blues Next Year

How does your business deal with holiday leave?  If employees are unable to take the time off that suits them then you might want to consider now putting in place certain strategies that will assist with the competing demands of individuals, especially during the summer months.

1. Do You Have A Holiday Leave Policy?
Some employers simply have a clause in each employee’s contract stating how much holiday they are entitled to and whom they should give notice to.  Others have more complex policies relating to periods of notice to be given for leave and whether it is being distributed on a first come first served basis.  The default position under the Working Time Regulations is that workers cannot just take leave whenever they want to.  The regulations set out the requirements of notice giving, which equates to a notice period that is twice as long as the period of leave requested.  As an employer you have the right to refuse any request.

2. Competing Requests
The summer holidays, (indeed any school holidays) are a popular time off choice for parents not only for the purposes of holiday, but also managing childcare.  There is a surprising lack of guidance as to how to manage this process.  ACAS’s advice is simply to be ‘fair and consistent’.  The key to this is to prepare and to be clear.  Preparing well in advance gives everyone an opportunity to digest any business requirements you may have and for those who are able to make adjustments to their holiday plans to do so in good time.

3. If You Have A Policy, Use It
Time and time again employers tell us that they have a policy but that it has not been looked at or applied consistently for many years.  This is worse than having no policy at all!  If you are going to go to the time and effort of having a policy, then it should be one that is applied and reviewed annually to see if it still meets the requirements of the business.  Having a policy that is applied to some and not others simply breeds discontent amongst employees.

4. Last But Not Least
It is important to remember that holiday is a break from work and is a Health and Safety issue.  The advances in technology are increasingly a barrier to employees having such a break.  Sometimes this is as a result of the employer continuing to communicate with the employee, or indeed sometimes the employee who simply struggles to let go of their electronic devices.  Employers should have regard to the fact that a worker who can show that they are repeatedly on call during their holiday period, will have useful evidence in any subsequent claim for stress or psychiatric injury resulting from overwork.  They could also claim that if a substantial amount of time was taken up dealing with calls or emails from work that they were not in fact on holiday but were on working time and seek to take the leave off at a later date. 

Amanda Finn can be contacted at a.finn@gullands.com