Christmas, New Year and staff holidays
Q. My client wants to put plans in place to manage time off over Christmas and New Year, how should they do this?
A. Annual leave can be an important topic in any workplace, particularly in the period around Christmas and New Year, which is often the end of the leave year. Your client may be concerned at the thought of handling an influx of annual leave requests during this time, however, this can easily be done so long as they plan accordingly.
Firstly, it is important that your client ensures that their workplace policies are up to date. Whilst it is possible to create a separate policy around leave during Christmas and New Year, your client may prefer to simply include a specific section in any existing annual leave policy. Your client should use this opportunity to outline their stance on the matter, including any planned shut down over the holiday period, what days’ staff are allowed to request off work and the correct process for requesting leave during this time.
Your client should carefully consider what days staff will be able to take off during the Christmas period, informing them of this in advance. This will be dependent on a number of factors, such as the nature of the business, with those in industries such as retail and hospitality often having a strict approach to staff requesting leave during this time. Although generally uncommon, your client may even require staff to work on Christmas or New Year’s day and this should be made clear to them, either in their contract of employment or with as much notice as possible, preferably at the start of the leave year.
Alternatively, your client may find, like many organisations, that a reduction in demand will enable a number of employees to take time off during Christmas and New Year. This, in turn, creates its own problems as annual leave requests need to be managed appropriately. Your client should first consider how many individuals are able to take time off at once, which will largely be dependent on the size of the workforce, ensuring line managers and HR personnel keep a detailed record of who will be in and when.
Leave requests need to be managed with both employee and business interests in mind. Whilst a first come first served procedure may be favoured, it is important to ensure fairness and impartiality at all times when deciding which requests to accept. Your client should be mindful not to favour certain employees over others, ensuring a fair compromise is reached whenever there are conflicting leave requests.
Ultimately the task of effectively managing time off during Christmas and New Year will be dependent on a number of factors. However, it is essential that your client considers the approach that is best for business and communicates this to staff in good time.