How are you managing employee holidays?

It might seem like a ridiculous question, given that we can’t travel or stay in other houses, but a holiday’s about more than ‘getting away’, and you should be aware of how you might manage employee holiday requests now and in the future.

This period has been hard work for everyone. Whatever you’ve been doing: on furlough, working normally, working longer hours, shielding, caring for a vulnerable family member or facing the possibility of making staff redundant – it’s been a trying and worrying few months.

And, although things are slowly starting to return to business, you and your employees will still need a break. Whilst there’s a limit to where you can travel, you can get to see friends and family, you can celebrate special events and you can take some time to relax and switch off.

Managing excess holiday

Employees can now carry leave over for the next two leave years, to take into account the fact that businesses are having to work differently to manage the impact of COVID-19.

Guidance on the government’s website states:

“Currently, almost all workers are entitled to 28 days’ holiday including bank holidays each year. However, most of this entitlement cannot be carried between leave years, meaning workers lose their holiday if they do not take it.

There is also an obligation on employers to ensure their workers take their statutory entitlement in any one year – failure to do so could result in a financial penalty.

The regulations will allow up to 4 weeks of unused leave to be carried into the next 2 leave years, easing the requirements on business to ensure that workers take statutory amount of annual leave in any one year.”

So employers will need to manage the carrying-over of leave whilst also making sure that employees take leave in a way that is sustainable for the business, and promotes their wellbeing.

How to talk to your people about holiday

Holiday is one of the most precious benefits that a company offers. Many companies offer more than the standard holiday entitlement, including things like a holiday on an employee’s birthday and holiday rewards as part of recognition schemes. There are also holiday buy-back schemes and all these variations will need to be taken into account.

If you have employees that want to take holiday at this point, accommodate them if you possibly can. It could be that they have had a stressful time and need to recuperate – or that they have had COVID-19 and want to make the most of recovery. Or it could be that the holiday time was booked in advance and they still want to take it, even if holiday plans have been cancelled.

Whilst you need to make sure that you have the staff and skills to help your business return to work or meet new demand, you have to balance this with the impact on your employees’ wellbeing from not taking a holiday until much later in the year.

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