The big issue of annual leave requests in the Summer.
The summer is finally here, British Summer Time has already begun, and schools and colleges across the country are now on the countdown until the big summer break.
That’s great if you work in the academic sector and have an academic calendar, but what about the thousands (if not millions) of businesses who don’t?
Annual leave requests for July and August (other than Christmas) significantly increase. Parents juggling childcare are usually first to hand in their requests with many colleagues soon following – simply because it’s summer!
So how do businesses manage the influx of annual leave requests fairly without impacting on operations?
Follow our 5 Simple Ways to Manage Summer Holiday Requests
Step 1 Annual Leave Policy
It sounds simple, but having a structured annual policy in place is the first rule for managing annual leave fairly.
Whether you are a start-up, small business or global organisation, having an annual leave policy should be one of the first things you administer – after all, every employee is entitled to annual leave.
Whatever annual leave entitlement your organisation offers, ensure it is documented. Do all full-time employees have the same amount of holidays? Does your business operate weekends and bank holidays, and therefore request annual leave to be taken at different times? Are you an accountancy practice that requires annual leave not to be taken at the end of March/beginning of April due to the fiscal calendar? Whatever policy you have, ensure it is documented.
7 Considerations to think about when formulating an annual leave policy;
1) The UK statutory holiday entitlement including Bank Holidays is 28 days (if a standard five day week is worked)
2) As an employer, you can choose to pay for additional days as an enhanced employee benefit, but it is not a requirement.
3) Consider whether annual leave increases due to the length of service.
4) Consider part-time and irregular hours workers; holiday entitlements need to be pro-rata.
5) Consider your operations and your peak periods of activity, do you want annual leave to be taken during your busiest week? Holiday entitlement can be restricted outside of these times. Employees are not automatically entitled to choose when their annual leave is taken.
6) Consider how many employees could be on annual leave at any time and set a maximum to ensure the business impact is significantly lessened.
7) Set a notice period, if you have written that all annual leave requires a minimum of xx days before submission, you will allow yourself time to reflect on the business needs before approving.
Step 2 Consider the business objectives and deliverables
If all, or most of your employees requested the same two weeks off over Summer, could you manage? Could your business operate with minimal effect to delivery? If so, then use it to your advantage. For example, many manufacturing industries have a ‘two-week’ shut down period in the summer. The reason being the industry is quiet and reliant on a supply chain. Therefore it is easier to give annual leave if the business is quiet both from a customer and a supply chain perspective.
If your business is completely the reverse and has its peak trading periods during the summer, this again might be something to consider in the annual leave policy. Employees do not have an automatic right to choose when they have annual leave.
If like many businesses, there are no peak or lean periods during the summer, but you are still impacted by the demand for annual leave – consider how many people in the department or business overall are needed to deliver what is necessary, and consider an ‘Only 2, 4, 5 off at any period of time’. Again, employees do not have the right to choose when they have annual leave.
Step 3 First Come, First Served Rule
There is no hard and fast rule to approving annual leave requests, especially at busy times such as Summer, but you could always consider the golden oldie of ‘first-come-first-served’, especially if you operate a ‘no more than‘ rule.
Again, there is no easy way to 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.
Just bear in mind, employees who get their requests in first. Do they always get their requests in and ask for key summer weeks off? Consider a rotation system to ensure other team members don’t feel disgruntled if their colleague always gets to have the main weeks off summer off.
Step 4 Plan Ahead
As annual leave requests come in, consider the notice period. Have they given a week’s notice? Two, three or four? The more notice period you have, the more you can plan for their absence. If you have a written policy on annual leave, one of the key points should be adequate notice.
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. For example, if you have an employee off every week during that time, and operating as a skeletal workforce – adding additional workload such as events would be futile.
Step 5 Record Management
Another simple one, but one that’s easily missed by busy departments. Does your business have an easy to use holiday management system, usually part of an overall HR software solution that can be easily accessed by HR, managers and employees?
Cloud-based HR systems, like Natural HR’s holiday management system, optimises annual leave requests and documents the days across a team calendar, so it is easier to see for everyone.
Employees who don’t have childcare demands might not necessarily know when schools close and innocently request a week during the summer holidays. If your organisation uses an online HR system, the employee could log on and see how many days remaining they have, who is off already that week. They could then consider a different week before they even submit the request. A simple process, that certainly avoids the disappointment of declined annual leave requests and reduces the paperwork involved in submitting and refusing.
Summer leave requests can be refreshing to your business if managed effectively; the key is planning and management. Our customers often comment on how easy Natural HR’s holiday request functionality is and how it has supported their businesses in planning workloads around holidays and agreeing to requests fairly.
If your annual leave policies need additional support with HR Software to enable self-service and workforce planning, then book a demo with our team.