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Holidays and how to handle them

Posted by Supportis Legal Experts in HR and Employment Law

With the financial year coming to an end, and for many a new holiday year just around the corner, what are employee rights when it comes to holidays?

Not being organised or planning in advance for annual leave could land an employer in hot water.

The aim of this article is to stop small business from falling into the holiday trap and costing the business hard earned money.

Knowing the employee’s contractual terms

Knowing exactly how many holidays each employee is entitled to will help a business with its holiday management. Being aware of any contractual obligations that an employer has committed to regarding holidays will also help. Some contracts guarantee that an employee will have 2 consecutive weeks off per year, or that an employee can give as little as 48 hours notice to take holidays.

Within the Working Time Regulations 1998, all employees are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 week’s holiday. However, don’t assume that each employee will only have the statutory minimum of 5.6 weeks.

Having a clear Holiday Policy

Similar to the above, if the contract is silent on holiday particulars, then having a good policy in place will help with holiday management.

A good holiday policy will provide details on:

  • How much holiday can be taken at once
  • How much notice must be given to take holiday
  • How many people can be off at any one time
  • When the holiday year runs from and until
  • Whether or not unused holidays can be carried over into the next holiday year

Holiday is still considered to be a ‘use it or lose it’ benefit, but if this point is emphasised in a policy it
makes it much easier for business to enforce.

Keeping an effective log of holidays

Who has taken what and when? Being organised and monitoring how much holiday an employee has taken and when they’ve taken it will help. Regularly reviewing who has taken what holiday and proactively engaging with employees who have a build-up and encouraging them to book them in should stop the end of year rush to fit holidays in or create issues around workplace cover.

Remember, under the Working Time Regulations 1998, an employer can dictate that an employee takes holiday as long as double the amount of notice is given in relation to the amount of holiday the employee will be expected to take, i.e. if an employer wants an employee to take 1 weeks’ holiday 2 weeks’ notice should be given.

Don’t be afraid to say NO!

An employee has the right to request holidays, but does not have the right to have holidays granted. An employer can, within reason, say no to an employee’s holiday request. If the holiday request does not fall within the holiday policy, or will have a negative impact on the business, an employer does not have to grant it.

Employees should ensure that holidays have been accepted before booking their trips away.

Again, under the Working Time Regulations 1998 an employer can cancel holiday if there is a genuine business need. The employer must give the same notice as the holiday period in order to do this, i.e. if the employee is taking 1 weeks’ holiday, then 1 weeks’ notice must be given to cancel that holiday.

Cancelling holiday may cause the employee to feel very disgruntled, especially if they are losing out financially having booked travel and hotels and may incur extra childcare costs. It is essential therefore that this is seen as a last resort and if you are considering cancelling holidays at the last minute, it’s wise to seek advice.

Essential holiday management

Being organised, knowing your employees terms and conditions, having a good policy and sticking to it are all essential to good holiday management. As with any policy, being fair and consistent will help everyone with forward planning.

Supportis can help you to create and embed an effective Holiday Policy within your business as well as give guidance around how to proactively manage employee holidays.

To discuss holiday management or to book a free consultation call 0161 603 2156 and speak to one of our Employment Law Advisers.

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