Managing Annual Leave in your business
Running a business comes with many challenges, perhaps none more so than balancing the demands of your business against the demands of your staff to take time off! Inevitably there will be peaks and troughs throughout the year but there are always some periods when you can expect demand to be higher.
Certainly, the best summer (so far), since 1976, coupled with England’s ‘so near, yet so far’ performance in Russia has meant that many businesses have experienced even higher than usual requests for time off over the past few months, which would usually be more evenly spread across the year.
So, how do you manage that? And where do you stand if you are struggling to cope with all your staff being off?
This is one area that having expertly drawn up Employment Contracts will prove to be your saving grace. Robust documentation will clearly set out exactly what your company’s leave policy is, how much notice staff are required to give before taking leave and what might happen if several staff apply for the same period of time off.
Are you prepared for the Annual Leave anomaly of the decade?
Does your annual leave year run from 1st April to 31st March?
If so, you could be at risk of breaching the Working Time Regulations!
We can all get a bit confused by the way Easter shifts around from year to year, but in 2018 and 2019 there is an added complication. The reason you could find yourself breaching Working Time Regulations is that there is no Good Friday bank holiday in between 1st April 2018 to 31st March 2019, a phenomenon that we won’t see again until 2024!
How do I know if this applies to me?
Check your Employment Contracts. If your staff are entitled to 20 days annual leave, plus bank holidays, the current leave year will see them only receive a maximum of 27 days leave. One day less than the statutory minimum of 28 days and thus, an unintentional breach of Working Time Regulations.
Don’t be daft, Good Friday doesn’t just disappear!
Of course, you are absolutely correct! Here’s how it worked. Good Friday in 2018 was on 30th March 2018, thereby falling in 2017/18’s leave year. Meanwhile Good Friday 2019 will be on 19th April 2019 – well into the 2019/20 leave year.
What can I do about it?
To be honest, not much. A minimum of 28 days is required by law and you can’t negotiate out of this.
You could undertake a full workforce consultation in order to agree the carry forward of up to eight days leave into the next leave year. However, even if you do this you must still top up their current year’s leave entitlement to 28 days in order to ensure you meet the legal requirements.
Can I do anything to future proof myself?
It would be advisable to review how you have defined annual leave entitlement within your Employment Contracts.
When you start to make any changes to contracts, it’s vital to seek expert advice. Apart from ensuring that you make all applicable changes in one go, a qualified advisor will be able to support you through the consultation and implementation process.
What else do I need to know?
As with many aspects of running a business, HR rules can be complex and the impact of non-compliance on your business, far reaching. Don’t gamble with the business you’ve worked so hard to build.