We all know that flight delays can cause holiday problems but recent headlines regarding one well-known airline have highlighted just how important holiday scheduling is for every employer.

Leaving any business with insufficient staff to operate is going to lead to a number of difficulties and whilst it might not lead to flight cancellations in other business sectors it is likely to have a negative commercial impact.

However by following a few simple steps it is possible to avoid holidays resulting in staff shortages in most businesses.

  1. Record Keeping

Record keeping systems are vital. The employer should know how much holiday each employee has taken and how much they have left to take. If there are a large number of employees who have yet to take holiday in the last quarter of the holiday year, it might be time to be proactive. You cannot refuse an employee’s request for leave where such refusal results in restricting an employee from taking their statutory entitlement to at least 4 weeks annual leave. You can however, require employees to take holidays on certain dates by giving notice at least twice the length of the period of leave that the worker is being ordered to take.

  1. Mandatory Time Off

One way of managing holiday schedules is requiring employees to take their leave during ‘shut downs’. In some businesses this may traditionally be a 2-week period over the summer in others closing between the period of Christmas and New Year is common. Whilst it might be seen as restricting choice it can make commercial sense if the levels of work dip at certain times of the year. Plus all staff members are treated equally and know exactly where they stand in relation to the holiday period.

  1. Prevention is better than cure

If you know there is going to be a surge in demand it is possible to restrict when holiday may be taken. This requires that the employees are told the same number of days in advance as the total days in which holidays are prohibited. So a two week prohibition on holidays would require two weeks advance notice if there is no other holiday notice provision in place. Unpopular as that stance may be, business need comes first. Employees may be disgruntled initially but provided times in which annual leave is prohibited from being taken is communicated effectively and it will not affect anyone who has already booked a holiday it would be a reasonable instruction.

  1. Selection Process

Managing holiday leave requests will in many cases be done on the basis of which request or requests were made first. It will be important that employees are made aware of the holiday policy though and the circumstances in which holiday requests may be refused.  Consistency is key in ensuring that your holiday decisions do not cause conflict in the workplace.

Following these simple steps with a little planning and preparation and you are off to a flying start in keeping your employees happy and business running smoothly.

This blog post was written by Jo-Anne McCartan-Cripps. For further information, please contact:

Christopher Davies, professional support lawyer, Employment

T: 0161 836 7936

E: Christopher.Davies@gateleyplc.com


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This blog is intended only as a synopsis of certain recent developments. If any matter referred to in this blog is sought to be relied upon, further advice should be obtained.