How To Manage Holiday Requests
As the summer holiday season is in full swing I’m sharing my top tips on how to manage holiday requests from staff.
A block of time away from the stresses of daily life is our way of hitting the refresh button and when we return we are better equipped to handle whatever comes. If we don’t get that chance to recharge our batteries we start to mentally check out, that means your employees could be surfing the internet when they are supposed to be working on that big project!
Ideally your employees will spread their entitlement over the whole leave year, but that never happens!!! In fact, it sometimes seems like everyone tries to cram their whole years entitlement into the same 6 week period!!!
The starting point when you receive a holiday request should be to ask –
- Has the employee submitted their holiday request in the correct manner? For example, using a suitable holiday request form.
- Has the employee given the notice required under their contract to take a holiday?
- Does the employee have sufficient holidays to take the leave requested?
- Is the request within the limit on the number of consecutive days’ holiday which can be taken at one time under their contract (if applicable)?
- Are other employee’s absent at the same time? If so does that mean you can’t cover the workload?
5 Top Tips To Managing Holiday Requests
- Give Yourself Enough Time Approve Holiday Requests
This is a biggie. Be sure to set a deadline for submitting Holiday Requests that gives you enough time to project how employee absences might affect production schedules and project delivery dates and to resolve any conflicts (like two employees asking for the same week off).Regulation 15 of the Working Time Regulations 1998 (SI 1998/1833) govern the notice requirements for taking a period of holiday under regs 13 and 13A.
In the absence of any arrangement or agreement to the contrary, workers must give notice which is double the amount of the holiday they wish to take, for example, a worker wishing to take two weeks’ holiday must provide at least four weeks’ advance notice of the date they wish the period of holiday to start.
The ability of workers to take annual leave can be lost if they do not comply with the notice requirements imposed by the Working Time Regulations 1998 and/or under the contract.
You may refuse a request for leave by serving counter notice. To do so you should give notice that is equivalent to the period of holiday proposed, for example if the worker wanted to take two days leave, they would have to give you four days notice and you can come back to them within two days to refuse the leave. However, refusing individual requests for holiday in an attempt to prevent the worker from taking their entitlement in that holiday year would put you at risk of claims for preventing an individual from taking a statutory entitlement,
You can specify alternative notice periods in your contract of employment.
- Communicate Your Holiday Policy
I’m sure you will have covered these important policies during your induction process. But that process can be quite overwhelming so a refresher is always good, and I always say repetition is better than never at all!Make sure your employees know what notice they need to give you when requesting Annual Leave and how much, or little, Annual Leave can be taken at any one time.
Send out an email, add it to the agenda of your next team meeting and put a copy of the policy on your notice board. Just make sure everyone is well aware of the policy before it’s too late in the season!
If you don’t have Holiday and Time Off Work policies check out my Online HR Department service.
- Be Fair
Remember it’s impossible to please everyone! However, a simple and reasonable process for granting or declining holiday requests will ensure a fair process.
You will need to create an policy for how conflicting requests will be decided, for instance will seniority take priority or first come, first serve. If you have to decline a request be sure you’ve made the right decision as the employee may submit a grievance if they feel there request has been handled unfairly.
To ensure fairness You might allow those who did not get their first choice this year to get first pick in the next year.
Whatever process you choose for reviewing holiday requests it’s vitally important that apply that process consistently. When an employee is disappointed that their request has been declined they are more likely to be accepting of the decision and less likely to make a fuss if they feel a consistent process has been applied to all annual leave requests. That in turn reduces your exposure to complex and time consuming tribunal claims!
- Ensure Staffing Levels are Appropriate
It’s always best practice to consider holiday, sick leave and other kinds of employee absences when you’re planning your staffing levels. Ask yourself: who could cover for this position if that person took a period of holiday?
- For some critical positions where you can’t afford to have a full-time backup on your team you may need to consider temporary cover by an agency worker.
- For teams doing similar or like work it’s easy to re-distribute the work amongst the rest of the team rather than one person taking on the work of two.
- Prepare The Employee For Their Absence
You need to create a checklist for your employees of things they need to do before they leave the office. Here are some examples:
- Notify customers ahead of time that they will be out of the office and who on the team can be of assistance to them while they are away.
- Brief the cover on all outstanding work and what needs to be done whilst they are away. Make sure to provide a list of key contact information and details on how to access related files.
- Record a phone greeting to let callers know that they are out of the office and when they can expect them back.
- Create and Out Of Office response for e-mails confirming they are out of the office, when they are back and who they can contact if they’re message is urgent.
There you go! Those are my Top Tips to managing holiday requests this summer.
But what can you do if the summer months are your busiest time, or you have an unusually large project to complete this summer and you need to encourage your employees to be at work during that period?
You can offer premium pay and bonuses but often small gestures are equally appreciated.
Here are some ideas for you to consider:
- Treat Yourself and Your Employees arrange for some ice creams and ice lollies to be delivered during the afternoon of a particularly hot day.
- Encourage Casual Fridays in the heat of summer we all need a break from professional clothing, let your employees wear flip-flops and relax the formal clothing rules just once a week. See how it goes and if everyone can handle the freedom to chose appropriate summer clothing, then maybe you could make it more than once a week. You may want to outline some rules so no one shows up in beach attire.
- Create Summer Activities Tell your employees to put a favorite toy on their desk. Encourage everyone to bring in the recipe for their favorite cocktail. Have tropical music playing in the office or staff room. Arrange a picnic for everyone. Suddenly, your office will feel more like holiday than work and your employees can focus on work because they will no longer be Googling holiday spots cos they’ll be in one!
Template Holiday Request From
My Holiday Request Form is designed to be used by all staff to request and seek approval for periods of holiday.