Summer time is a period of great sporting events, festivals, lovely weather (for those of you not living in Scotland!), and of course the long school holidays. Consequently, the Summer is typically seen by employees as an ideal time to take some time off work and recharge their batteries. However, the Summer period can sometimes mark the beginning of a challenging period for businesses as they potentially have to balance busy periods with managing Employee annual leave.
The current statutory amount of annual leave that a full-time employee who works a five-day week is 5.6 weeks (or 28 days), although some businesses may grant higher annual leave entitlements to their employees.
A Consistent Approach
First of all, we would recommend to any Employer that they have a policy which states things such as what the annual leave entitlement is for their employees, the notice that they should give when requesting annual leave, how many employees can be on annual leave at any one time, and also the process for granting or refusing holiday requests. Such a policy would put an Employer on solid ground when granting or refusing an annual leave request.
Refusing an Annual Leave Request
An annual leave request can be refused in reasonable situations such as a busy operational period for the business in the same way that employees can be required to take annual leave at certain times throughout the year (such as a Christmas ‘shut-down’ for example).
What about Travel Delays?
As we witnessed with British Airways in May this year, an individual’s travel arrangements can be severely disrupted to the extent that they are not able to return to work on the agreed date. In these scenarios, employees do not have a legal right to be paid by their employer for travel delays. However, there can be situations when a discretionary payment is made or additional annual leave is granted.
School Holidays and the associated Childcare Responsibilities
While school kids may be celebrating the fact that ‘School Is Out’ for the Summer, the childcare responsibilities towards young children during this period can cause a minor headache for employees and by extension their employers.
Employees have a legal right to take ‘Time Off For Dependents’ which is usually one or two days unpaid leave which would allow the employee to make arrangements in special emergency cases. Alternatively, employees can submit a flexible working request for a permanent change to their working pattern or negotiate a temporary change to their working pattern for the Summer holiday period.
Sickness during holidays
Another possible complication is if an employee becomes sick while they are on annual leave. If the sickness occurs before the employee is due to go on annual leave, then the Employer cannot force the employee to take annual leave if they are eligible for sick pay. However, employees can ask their employer to take paid holiday for the time that they are off sick, they may do this if they do not qualify for sick pay for example.
In the same fashion, employees who fall ill during their holiday can take that period as sick leave instead of annual leave, and they will continue to accrue holiday entitlement while they are off sick. In unfortunate circumstances where an employee is unable to use their full holiday entitlement because of sickness, they will be entitled to carry the remainder of their holiday entitlement into the next year.
A fair and consistent approach should hopefully result in employees having the time off they require without having a negative effect on the business and thus ‘Serve and Ace’ in dealing with their employee’s annual leave.
Photo Credit: BBC.co.uk