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Holiday Blues – How to manage holiday requests

Flight delayed. Information on monitor at a gate in airport terminal.

Thousands of passengers stranded, mass pilot desertions, a huge public outcry and headlines across all media channels – because of what?

It is hard to believe that this was all down to a monumental failure by Ryanair to monitor and manage holiday requests submitted by their flight crews.  

This demonstrates how failing to manage your staff leave can, as in the case of Ryanair, totally disrupt your ability to manage and run your business. Monitoring leave and having appropriate policies and procedures in place can help to minimise such disruption.

The Law

Workers have a statutory legal right to a minimum of 5.6 weeks annual leave each year, which equates to 28 days holiday for an employee working 5 days per week.  This is inclusive of bank holidays or any days that the business usually closes, unless your contracts state otherwise.

If you fail to provide your employees with their statutory minimum entitlement you could face the risk of an employment tribunal claim.

The practice of ‘rolling up’ holiday pay, i.e., paying staff for any unused holiday, has (with certain minor exceptions) been declared to be unlawful.

How to manage holiday requests

You should set out your holiday rules in writing, including the start of the holiday year, confirming if holiday entitlements are inclusive or exclusive of bank holidays and the procedure for applying for and authorising holiday requests.

An effective holiday policy should contain the following information:

  1. Who the application should be made to
  2. How much notice the employee should give to request holiday
  3. The circumstances in which holiday requests may be refused
  4. Right to refuse holiday leave on business grounds
  5. Certain periods in the year where holiday leave is not allowed e.g. Christmas
  6. How many staff in certain areas can take holiday leave at any one time
  7. The maximum number of days that can be taken off in a single period
  8. If staff need to reserve annual leave for certain circumstances e.g. office/factory closure
  9. How you will deal with accrued but not taken holiday leave
  10. How much holiday leave staff can carry forward to the next year (certain legal limits apply).

You also have certain rights when it comes to refusing holiday requests and you can even stipulate when your employees take their holiday, providing you serve the correct period of notice.

You should also be aware that there are special rules which apply if an employee falls ill whilst on holiday or is unable to take holiday leave due to sickness.

Calculation of holiday pay can also prove difficult. Recent changes, particularly in relation to commission and certain types of overtime payments, means that under certain circumstances, these may need to be included in the calculation of holiday pay.

If you need help to ensure that you have clear rules in place when dealing with holiday requests or calculating holiday entitlement or pay please call our advisors on 01455 444222 or complete our contact form.

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.

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