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Holiday Hell

A client of mine has recently suffered the consequences of poor holiday management processes. Often my clients have too many employees off or requesting leave at the same time as a major bugbear, particularly during the summer months. These issues are relatively easy to manage by ensuring holiday leave policies are robust and time bound and outline fully any mandatory shutdown periods or peak time clauses restricting holiday.

But what happens when employees refuse to take their annual leave?  As a contractual clause I often encourage my clients stipulate that holidays not used in the year it is accrued cannot be taken forward and therefore they will lose their holiday entitlement; if there are no extenuating circumstances such as long term ill health problems. However, this deterrent does not always work.

A worker is entitled to 28 days annual leave each year including the bank and public holidays under the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR). Many employers provide the basic and many slightly more. The objective of the law is to protect the wellbeing, health and safety of workers by ensuring they take a sufficient amount of rest leave. Established case law proves this as workers continue to accrue holiday while they are off sick and when they are on maternity, paternity or adoption leave.
As such should workers be forced to take their annual leave to ensure, as an employer, you have not only complied with the WTD but also met the duty of care obligations?
 
Regulation 15 of the WTR actually allows employers to:
  1. Require workers take annual leave
  2. Specify the days on which that leave must be taken
 
So some practical steps to help are:
  1. State within employment contracts or employee handbooks that the Company has the statutory right to require all personnel take annual leave and may instruct staff to take leave on particular days.
  2. Remind staff in advance of the main holiday season to book leave.
  3. Encourage employees to plan out main holiday leave based on a week off per quarter to use their accrued leave and get the recommended rest periods.

If you need help with holiday calculations, contractual holiday clauses or creation of employee handbooks and supporting policies contact Harries Human Resources on 01206 865464 or email -  info@harrieshr.co.uk

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