Employers urged to be clear on annual leave criteria as more Bank Holidays approach

April 25, 2022

It seems that Bank Holidays are a bit like buses at the moment – none for a while and then three arrive together.

After the four-day Easter break, a May Bank Holiday and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, many employees are taking advantage of the additional time off work by turning the extra day or days into an extra-long weekend.

As part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, the late May bank holiday will be moved to Thursday 2 June, with an additional one on Friday 3 June.

This change may have practical and, in some cases, contractual implications – as well as presenting a headache for employers.

Nel Woolcott, Managing Director at Peterborough-based Anne Corder Recruitment said: “Employers are likely to face an increased number of requests for holidays around this time, with many workers looking to take advantage of the four-day weekend.

“While many requests may have already been granted, we still have the May half term holiday and the long summer holidays to consider – not to mention another Bank Holiday in August.

“With many staff still working remotely, and less visibility in an office environment, managing annual leave can become more challenging for employers.

“There has been a lot of conversation in recent months around ensuring that employees take their holiday entitlement, which is hugely important given post-pandemic wellbeing pressures still being felt by many.

“However, our advice to employers is to have a clear and consistent holiday request procedure and plan well in advance to eliminate any potential staffing issues – particularly for smaller businesses with fewer employees.

“Being clear on your criteria will alleviate any unnecessary pressure on your businesses and other staff. For example, will requests be considered on a first come, first served basis or will you take into account summer holiday pressures of staff with children at school?

“We suggest an ongoing dialogue with your teams, and if possible, encourage employees to book their holiday at the start of their year. There will almost certainly be some room for manoeuvre but being clear from the outset can help with the efficiency of your business and enable you to plan for any temporary cover that may be required.”

Going on annual leave may be great for the person taking a break, but thinking ahead about colleagues, clients and customers can help ease the post-holiday blues:

  • Try and be fair when requesting a day/s off – particularly if a colleague has a get-away booked or a special occasion to attend on a specific date and you can be more flexible
  • Ensure your out of office is on, together with details of who to contact in your absence – making sure that the person is fully briefed
  • If you receive an email for a colleague and you know that they are on annual leave, try and respond on their behalf – they are more likely to return the favour if you do
  • Make sure that you write comprehensive handover notes and go through them with your colleague or employer
  • Let your client or customer know you will be away from the office and try and tie up any loose ends or meetings before you leave. If you are scheduling a meeting for your return, be sure to give yourself enough time to prepare
  • If you are on annual leave but still at home, don’t be tempted to check your emails, dial in to any meetings or get involved with anything in your working life that won’t keep until your return.