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April 26 2021Read more
Summer is just around the corner – the most popular time of year for annual leave requests.
Annual leave is essential in reducing stress levels and preventing burnout. And it’s not just the employee who benefits - this also helps prevent financial losses for employers.
17.9 million working days in the UK were lost to occupational stress, depression, or anxiety in 2019-20.
A well-rested and relaxed workforce improves productivity, motivation and creativity and reduces stress and sick leave – each of which is essential for staff retention and overall wellbeing.
However, for the second year in a row, managing the holiday expectations of your staff won’t be simple.
Many businesses are now faced with two equally frustrating problems:
Neither is an ideal situation for your business - which is why it’s vital to be vocal about your businesses holiday expectations early on.
We’re going to talk through best practice for both situations, each of which your business is likely to experience over the coming weeks.
Employees with holidays booked abroad
Travelling abroad is currently under a traffic light system – green, amber and red.
Green countries are safe to visit and require no self-isolation period following your return. Red countries are completely off-limits for UK citizens. Amber countries, however, is where things can get tricky.
If you visit an amber country, a 10-day isolation period is required upon your return. So, if your employee has two-weeks annual leave booked off to visit an amber-level country – this could mean they’d be away from work for nearly a month.
In this situation, employers have a few options:
It is important to look at each leave request on a case-by-case basis. Not everyone will be travelling abroad for recreational purposes and might be travelling for a more serious reason such as to attend a funeral or care for a sick relative.
Employees with holiday plans to visit green-listed countries are still not in the clear. It is a very real possibility that their country of choice could be moved to amber whilst they’re away.
To avoid confusion about protocols if this scenario presents itself, you should define your companies’ policies regarding this situation as quickly as possible.
Before your staff head abroad for some well-earned rest, make sure you present their options should their country move to the amber list. Options could include:
Ensuring that your company policy for overseas holidays is clear to all your employees will ensure that there is no confusion or upset from employees in the worst-case scenario.
Employees who aren’t booking holiday leave
Employees who are not booking any holiday leave at all can be just as risky for your business.
In normal circumstances, your employees would spread their leave evenly throughout the year.
However, with COVID-19 still causing holiday disruptions, many people are choosing to save their holiday leave until later in the year with the hopes of restrictions being lessened and more holiday destinations being available.
A build-up of unused holidays could mean a lot of leave is taken in the autumn and winter leaving your business under-staffed or even worse – holiday leave rolled over to next year, causing a bigger build up in 2022.
Employers can book leave on behalf of all staff, so if you’re concerned that your staff aren’t booking enough leave, you can technically step in on their behalf.
All that is required is providing double the notice of the holiday period you need them to take. So, if you need an employee to take three days off, you should provide at least six days’ notice prior to the leave.
Of course, forcing staff to take holiday should only be a last resort and could lead to morale and relationships issues with your staff. Instead, you should encourage your employees to book leave throughout the year and highlight the many mental health benefits of taking time off.
Remaining as flexible as possible to allow staff to taking their holiday leave is the best option for your business and will promote a good working relationship, improve morale, and contribute to employee wellbeing.
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