If there is one issue that causes confusion within a workplace, it is booking holidays. Whether it is because employees can’t get the time they want, because someone else got in first or because company policy prevents it, the life of a manager is often made much more difficult due to the topic of holidays. Some employers try to have their employees book most or all of their holiday dates at the beginning of the year but is this a good policy?

Know the law

One of the first thing employers should be aware of is the legal rights of their employees and their contracts. Annual leave is agreed as part of the employee’s contract when they start a job and lays out what they are entitled to and any conditions that apply to that. For example, in the catering trade, it is often common to have a restriction on taking holidays during December due to the extreme business of the time of year. This must be included in the contract to be enforceable.

Staff accumulate holidays during the course of the year. If the holiday year runs from 1st January until 31st December, then if the employee works for the company for six months then leaves, they will only accumulate 50% of the annual holidays. If they have taken more than the accrued amount when they leave, they will ‘owe’ holidays back which will usually mean a deduction from their pay packet.

Managing holidays

For a business, managing holidays can be a complicated process and this is why sometimes, businesses require staff to book their holidays in early, or at least a certain percentage of them. If staff don’t book their holidays, the business can face a rush towards the end of the holiday year where everyone has days to ‘use up’ and either some are refused or the business is left short-handed. As an employer, it is also a potential financial risk to allow employees to have too much untaken holiday as it will cost the business should they leave employment.

Managing holidays manually can be very time consuming and often lead to errors. However, the use of staff planning software can greatly reduce the problem, removing the need for manual processes and make for a happier balance between the needs of the business and of the employee. This is especially relevant for casual and part time employees to take away the pain of calculating leave accrual.

employee schedulesCovering busy periods

To encourage employees to take leave in advance can help ensure busy events are well staffed. Depending on your industry, this could be peak trade events or functions that require extra man power. Being able to plan ahead will provide reliable scheduling so you know when people are off and who can potentially cover.

Optimising your staffing levels can lead to increased productivity and sales, ensuring that your peak trade events run as smoothly as possible. If your business relies on these events throughout the year, consider your business rules in terms of blackout periods for taking leave, which may be strategic across whole business or individual unit requirements.

Using software to balance holidays and ensure visibility

By using scheduling software, managers have a quick way of authorising holidays. Software that takes into account business patterns and has real-time data fed into it, means businesses can better predict when they will need certain numbers of staff. This can mean both long term planning for holidays and also the ability to make informed decisions about requests on shorter notice, removing the need for cumbersome manual tasks.

With enhanced visibility of the whole workforce and approved holiday integrated with the scheduling software, you don’t need to worry about scheduling someone that’s on leave and have adequate time to arrange cover.

Additionally, Employee Self Service or ESS allows your staff to know how much leave they are entitled to, and can quickly view and request their holiday allowance, increasing employee engagement.

For more information on how to utilise shift planning software to help with managing staff holidays, get in touch with RITEQ by filling in our contact form or calling us on 020 3846 0600.

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