Staff ALL Going on a Summer Holiday After Lockdown? Here’s How to Avoid That
Thinking about the places you’ll travel to when lockdown is over?
So are all your staff…
If you don’t want them all jetting off at once and leaving your company in more of a pickle than it is now, it’s best to be prepared.
You can legally tell employees when to take holidays if you give enough notice, so you do have the option of asking your employees to use some of their accrued holidays during furlough or whilst quiet so you can avoid weeks’ worth of holiday requests after the lockdown has ended. However, you also need to look further ahead and manage the fact that people may well be coming back and then wanting to go on holiday at just the time that they are needed to help the business grow:
Here are six tips to avoid awkward annual leave pileups:
1: Have clear policies and procedures
Set rules, and make sure your people know them. Your annual leave policy should cover:
- the amount of leave staff are entitled to, including statutory holidays and any other compulsory leave (e.g. Christmas shutdowns)
- how requests are prioritised – is it first come first served, or something else?
- how to apply for leave
- how much notice to give
- how long a single period of leave can be
- the start and end dates of the leave year, and whether untaken days can be carried forward
- when (if ever) employees are not allowed to take leave
2: Be open, honest and fair
Regardless of whether staff are full-time, part-time, or fixed-term, make sure you treat everyone equally and don’t discriminate.
Have a virtual holiday planner to enable employees to see exactly what’s happening and plan their holidays to avoid clashing with each other. No need for anything too high-tech – a Google calendar will work fine.
3: Plan ahead
While we can’t be sure yet when lockdown will end, you can still ask your workers if they have any plans to take leave, and pencil those dates in ahead of time. This will give you a better chance of meeting your business commitments without upsetting your staff.
4: Remember you are allowed to refuse
Your employees have a legal right to their statutory annual leave, but they don’t have the right to take it whenever they want. You do have the option of saying no if someone wants to go on leave at an inconvenient time. However, if you do go that route, do make sure you clearly explain the business reason for the decision, so your employee doesn’t feel unfairly got at.
5: Know how to prioritise competing requests
If you do find yourself with clashing annual leave requests, there are two schools of thought on how to prioritise them.
The first is a simple ‘first come, first served’ system. This is legal, but may have the unfortunate effect of penalising those who are particularly busy, or who are having a particularly difficult time coping, as they’re less likely to ask for leave well in advance.
The other option is to choose based on the holiday everyone had last year. This is arguably the fairest approach.
Make sure your staff know not to book holidays before their leave has been approved, as it will ruin both their day and yours if you have to tell them they can’t take their kids to Disneyland when they’ve already booked.
6: Handle your handovers
The show must go on when people are on leave, so make sure your staff work together to provide a proper handover for whoever’s covering, including access to all the documents and systems they need, and contact info for all the people they might need to speak to.
Bonus: Use temps
Don’t forget you can also use temporary staff to cover inconvenient absences. This is much better than leaving regular employees trying to do two people’s jobs, which inevitably results in neither person’s job getting done well.
When bringing in a temp, decide who’ll be their line manager, and make sure that person is prepared. Again, it’s important that your temps get a proper handover, preferably from the person they’ll be covering for, and adequate time for training in any new skills.
Finally, don’t skip the oft-forgotten step of having the temp hand over to the returning employee after their holiday. Unexplained work left by temps can be a huge time-sink for employees, and particularly depressing to return to after a nice week on the beach.
You can expect a rush of demand for temps to cover holiday leave when we all go back to work, so contact your recruitment agency of choice now and lock in the temporary workers you need so you know you’re covered.