With the summer holidays just around the corner it is important that your business retains its productivity and that you have in place systems and procedures in order to deal with disruption during the annual summer holiday crunch. Is it time to rethink your holiday policy or, if you haven’t got one, to implement one?
A well-considered and written holiday policy will undoubtedly help keep disagreement, discontentment and disappointment at bay amongst employees and also allow you to effectively manage the business needs and resources during this period.
Any Holiday Policy should as a minimum contain the following:-
- Detail the amount of leave employees are entitled to – ensuring that you comply with the minimum requirements for annual leave under the Working Time Regulations (28 days paid holiday for workers working a five-day week including Bank Holidays)
- How many people can be off on the same day / how many people in each department can be off on the same day? – taking into account the needs of the business and the peak workload times/seasonal requirements, end of month and end of year requirements
- Have a clear procedure for requesting leave – any employee wishing to book leave must first submit a holiday request form to their line manager to sign and approve before sending on to HR
- Set out the notice an employee must give if they wish to take leave – One month’s notice for leave of four days or longer, and at least one week’s notice for leave of three days or less
- How conflicting requests for holiday will be resolved – on a first come/first served basis or by seniority or service longevity. It is essential that this is clear in any holiday policy and that any conflicts or requests for holiday will be resolved by considering the needs of the business and ensuring the business has enough staff to get the work done, whatever the time of year
- Be clear on whether or not employees can carry over leave – Employers may wish to encourage and remind employees to take their full leave entitlement spread over the 12 months as it’s better for wellbeing and productivity
- How the business will deal with sickness and leave —the legal position is that employees continue to accrue their statutory minimum holiday entitlement as normal while absent from work due to sickness
- Does the business grant any discretionary leave for emergencies and compassion: your policy should state whether this is a separate category or to be taken from employees holiday allowance; whether or not it will be paid
- Handovers: define which employees’ roles necessitate that they prepare a written handover note before taking leave. Define in which roles an oral handover will suffice. Both should detail current work status, supported by relevant documents or notes, as well as where to find electronic or paper files. A meeting between the person going on leave, the person taking their place and the relevant manager should take place at a set time before their departure.
- Does your business operate a total shutdown – this is more common in European businesses where they close down completely in August. If your business main area of trade is with European businesses who operate a shutdown during the summer you may wish to consider implementing a similar shutdown in your business to maximise productivity and reduce the impact of your trade partners being on shutdown for any length of time. If a shutdown in the summer is not suited to your business it is worth considering the potential of a shutdown during the Christmas week, dependant on your industry, the level of business done during this week maybe minimal and you may wish to close your offices entirely for this week or work shortened hours.
In order to manage summer holidays and ensure your business remains productive during this period having a detailed policy is essential and can assist you in the management of your business and engender a positive attitude towards leave within your business. After all, taking regular annual leave can lead not only to higher productivity, but also to decreased stress and absenteeism. And that applies equally as much to business owners as to their employees.