POSTED: June 14 2022
The Holiday Conundrum

The Holiday Conundrum

As we approach the summer and are finally able to get out and about, the Easter holidays are over, schools and colleges across the country and your employees are now likely on the countdown for the big summer break…

Annual leave requests may significantly increase over the next few months. Therefore the importance of managing annual leave requests fairly without impacting on the business deliverables is something that all employers should be prepared for. Here’s some tips for managing holiday over those in-demand periods.

Annual Leave Policy
In our experience, the fair allocation of holiday and management of annual leave is key to employee loyalty and engagement. Any misunderstandings about employee’s holidays can cause significant grumblings and discontent! advo would therefore recommend having a comprehensive, easily understandable and a structured annual policy in place that is clear to all employees.

The points to consider and to be included in an annual leave policy are;

  • As a minimum, the statutory holiday entitlement in the UK, including Bank Holidays is 28 days, 5.6 weeks for full time workers. We would always recommend ensuring that this is clearly detailed as 20 days and detail the 8 bank holidays, i.e. New Year’s day etc. In Scotland, there are more bank holidays and it is therefore important that if you have employees in Scotland that the bank holidays are detailed.

The detailed of the bank holidays avoids any confusion if there is an additional bank holiday awarded by the government.

This amount including the bank holidays is pro-rata’d for part-time and irregular hour’s workers.
Don’t forget that casual workers are also entitled to the statutory holiday entitlement.

  • You can choose to have additional annual leave, above the statutory minimum, as an enhanced employee benefit. This would also have to be pro-rata’d for part-time employees.
  • You may also wish to consider whether annual leave increases due to the length of service and when would this increase be implemented. For ease, advo would always recommend any increase in holiday is in the next holiday year.
  • Consider your peak periods of activity.

Holiday entitlement can be restricted during busier periods, within legitimate business reasons. For example, you may wish to limit holiday at the end of a financial year for a finance team when all accounts are being reconciled!

  • Consider how many employees could be on annual leave at any time and set a maximum.
  • Set a notice period,

If you have written that all annual leave requires a minimum of xx days before submission, this will allow time to reflect on the business needs before approving. Some companies also only allow extended holidays i.e. three weeks if eight week’s notice is provided and senior management approval given.

A provision for what happens if an employee cancels his or her holiday at short notice, for example by obliging the employee to take those booked days if they have not provided a certain amount of notice. This may be valuable to a company who may have already sought cover for the period.

  • First Come – First Served!

How you will manage requests fairly, but if all employees are given the same holiday entitlement at the same time of year, a first-come first served approach is usually agreeable to all. A rotation system could help diminish any disgruntled feelings if their colleague always has the main weeks holiday over the Summer or Christmas.

Encourage employees to take annual leave
The build-up of annual leave that is not spread out over the year can be problematic for employers. Managers should encourage employees to plan and take annual leave at regular intervals throughout the year. This helps to avoid a build-up of holiday but also helps to maintain employees’ health and motivation.

We would recommend a proactive approach in the management of holiday by regularly reviewing leave booked, taken and untaken.

If an employee has not taken any holiday or submitted any holiday dates by the middle of the holiday year, request holiday dates as a matter of urgency and give a deadline. You can also require an employee to take holiday but minimum notice periods are required.

advo would recommend reviewing your annual leave policy and the management of holidays. There may be gaps, anomalies or some ambiguity and we would be happy to provide you advice to ensure that your annual leave policy complies with legislation and is clear for everyone and we would always provide pragmatic advice in relation to any holiday questions.

Forward Planning
If you have sufficient notice of employees on holiday over the Summer, and it will probably stretch from the beginning of July right through to mid-September, you can plan objectives and deliverables around (or away) from these months.

Absence Management Recording
HR Absence management systems are a great way of managing leave, the employee could log on and see how many days remaining they have. A simple process, that certainly avoids the disappointment of declined annual leave requests and reduces the paperwork involved in submitting and refusing.

Did you know that if you are an HR retained client our advo-one absence management system is part of the service?  Email for more details or talk to your dedicated HR consultant.


Carly Gregory, advo HR Consultant