During lockdown many employees either have not taken or cancelled holidays they may have previously planned.
Although employers have been focusing on ensuring their businesses are COVID-Secure it is equally important to be encouraging employees to take time off to avoid burnout or other physical or mental health conditions.
However, as some government measures ease and staycations rise in popularity, many employers are facing an influx of holiday requests which have come at a time of year where businesses are becoming busy again.
What can we do to manage this?
The first step is to undertake a workforce holiday audit – this will give you a good idea on how much holiday your employees have left to take before the end of the holiday year. It will enable you to more accurately workforce plan for any busy periods that are coming up.
Under the Working Time Regulations, employers can designate when holiday should be taken, this is provided the employer gives twice the notice for the holiday it wants the employee to take. It is important to be aware that Acas does highlight that employers should avoid arbitrarily requiring staff to use up accrued holiday and should have a business reason for this.
Furthermore, the Working Time Regulations have been updated during the pandemic to allow employees to carry over up to 4 weeks of leave into the next 2 holiday years. This was intended for employees who could not take leave this year due to coronavirus, for example; due to increased workload or furlough leave, so that they would not lose out on holiday they were due. Employers do not have to allow the carry forward, but is useful to consider if your employees have an excess of leave left. Further guidance can be found on the Government website: HERE.
For your employees on furlough – they will still accrue holiday as normal and they are also entitled to take holiday whilst on furlough. If they do take holiday whilst on furlough this must be paid at their normal (pre-furlough) pay and employers can still claim as normal under the furlough scheme.
It is important to remain fair and consistent with your employees and ensure you are taking into consideration their personal circumstances when looking at their holiday.
If you have any queries around holidays in your business, NFU Employment Service members can contact our Helpline to discuss with one of our advisers.