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Managing holidays during the summer of chaos

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As today’s business leaders you will know of the great challenges and uncertainties of business and how Summer 2022 is impacting all businesses within the UK. 

Whilst summer for most people means sun, sea, sand, and relaxation, for employers it can be challenging. As the number of absences increase, an influx of annual leave requests floods your inbox, summer holiday-related childcare issues, questioning how hot is too hot to work and the industrial actions causing major travel delays, the pressure is heavy for employers. Read on to find out how we can help reduce the summer pressure on your business. 

How to manage the travel disruptions: train strikes and air travel issues. 

The hospitality sector alone is predicted to be losing £540 million across the week of rail disruption in July! Commuters across the country have been caught up in the tube and rail strikes as workers fall out over pay, pensions and working conditions. 

This is the biggest railway strike in 30 years and although it was originally scheduled for July, it is seemingly also overspilling into August, with nine rail companies striking on August 13th over pay.  

The main issues your employees will face because of these strikes could either be delayed arrivals into the office or requesting to work from home. 

Our recommendation for the challenges during these times is to implement an ‘adverse weather and travel disruption policy’, as part of this policy there is a section on ‘Industrial action affecting transport networks’. This policy states that the employee must attempt to make a genuine effort to report to work on time, call to inform you of the issues ahead of their normal start time on affected days and keep abreast of the situation throughout the day in case it improves – as if it the issues improve significantly the employee should report this and attend work unless told otherwise. 

Are you seeing more absences than usual during the summer months?

During the summer months, we expect the answer to that question to be yes. This is usually because of employees skipping work to enjoy the sunshine, attendance of a sporting, music or culture event or parents looking after their children during the summer holidays. The simple solution to this is to have a clear and well-communicated absence policy in place or perhaps allow some flexibility during these months for your employees, this will boost employee engagement and morale, and for businesses that can, simply letting your employees work from home, where they could work in the garden will no doubt mean less unexplained or suspicious absences. 

Dealing with an influx of annual leave requests – what are your options? 

After two years of COVID restrictions, everyone is just looking forward to a summer where they can see their friends, be out in the sunshine, go on holiday or simply go to the pub on a sunny afternoon. 

Your employees are likely to be discontented if they feel they are unable to take the time they request, however, employees must also understand that this can be a challenging time for employers, as this needs to be managed effectively so that a business is not left short staffed. 

The simplest way to manage absences is through an absence management system, this system can effectively manage your employee’s time whether this is for sickness, holiday, maternity etc. All of this information is held digitally for all of your employees, and you can view it in a calendar format for easy viewing and organisation of working schedules. 

How to support parents during the summer holidays:

During the summer holidays, a lot of parents have to take a ‘patchwork’ approach to childcare ranging from parental leave, summer play schemes, annual leave entitlement and informal arrangements through family and friends – this approach is both stressful and expensive for many. 

So, as an employer how can you help make this easier?
There are a couple of options such as: 

  • A backup care benefit:

This enables employees to access a collection of emergency childcare or adult care days when arrangements fall through. 

  • Flexible working:

Allowing parents to either adjust their working times, have condensed working hours, or allowing home working, flexible working is a very beneficial and worthwhile solution to the summer holidays issue. This can mean that parents can spend time with their children whilst still fulfilling their working obligations. 

Employers who are willing to recognise and support the challenges faced by parents throughout the summer holidays will reap the rewards in employee engagement, wellbeing, and productivity – as a culture that accepts and promotes practical support during the summer holidays is likely to be paid back tenfold in employee loyalty. 

How can employers prepare for the summer of chaos? 


Verbal and written communication with your staff and being flexible throughout the summer months is the easiest way to prepare for this summer of chaos. This could be done by:

  • Relaxing your work dress code:

This does not mean everyone can come into the workplace in flip flops but ensuring adjustments to the work attire can be made for everyone will be of great benefit, as if your employees are uncomfortable this is likely to have a detrimental impact on productivity and overall morale. 

  • Flexible working

We have mentioned it multiple times above but allowing flexible working for your employees during the struggles of the summer and the summer months, in general, is likely to mean more productivity and better employee retention throughout the rest of the year. 

  • Be compassionate 

This is not only a tough time for you as an employer, but it can be very stressful for your workforce also, so being compassionate and understanding is very important, if your employees feel they cannot speak to you about taking time off, issues with the industrial action or problems with childcare they are likely to start to feel disinterested and negatively towards you and your business. 

If you need more guidance around absence management, we can help with our fantastic absence management system providing a simple solution for businesses to effectively plan and manage employee absences. Accessed via eConnect – our employee management system – the cloud-based system is entirely paperless, removing the need for charts, wall planners and holiday request books.

We can also assist with managing holidays, flexible working, parental leave, or anything else discussed in this article, as our expert advisors are here to help with any query you may have. 

Please contact us at 01455 444222 or email us at [email protected] if you would like to learn more. 

Angela Clay

A qualified employment law solicitor and our managing director, Angela has unparalleled legal expertise and decades of experience and knowledge to draw from. She’s a passionate speaker and writer that loves to keep employers updated with upcoming changes to legislation, and is a regular guest speaker on BBC Leicester Radio.