Staff holidays can be difficult to manage regardless of the size of your organisation. For small business having members of your team missing, often at crucial times, be difficult to deal with. You may often find yourself required to arrange cover to minimise disruption. For larger organisations, with many more employees to consider, the difficulties can arise in managing entitlements, in ensuring the correct number are taken, that holidays aren’t overbooked and often trying to prevent there being a mad rush as employees try to book days off before the year end.
As all employees/workers are legally entitled to paid time off as holidays every business must try and overcome these hurdles. Being able to manage these issues when it comes to staff holidays can reduce the impact on your business and also help achieve a happy, motivated workforce.
Here are some tips to help you successfully manage your staff holidays.
Create a holiday policy which is given to each employee upon starting their employment and is available to all employees each year.
The policy should contain some specific points such as;
- How much notice an employee should give before the requested holiday date
- Any dates where holidays are not allowed to be taken i.e to cover specific busy periods such as run up to Christmas
- The maximum number of days than can be taken in one absence period
- Any rules for number of employees that can be off at any one time in a department or with a specific skill such as a designated First Aider
- That holidays can be requested but they are not guaranteed and the employee should not book any travel arrangements until the absence has been approved. You should aim to approve/reject in as short a time as possible.
- Requested dates will be prioritised by those that book first. Encourage employees to book as early as possible. An exception to this however, may be to rotate popular dates such as Christmas to ensure fairness.
- Details of what the Holiday year is (Jan – Dec / Apr – Mar) and when the Bank Holidays are
- Details of any company shutdowns or dates where holiday entitlement must be taken. These may typically be summer shutdowns or over the Christmas period
Holiday Request Procedure
Holiday Requests should be recorded and traceable. Historically the most common method for this is a paper holiday request form. These come in various forms such as an individual employee specific sheet which they keep with them and fill in each time they are requesting a holiday. The form will typically have a column for sign off from their supervisor as acceptance. Another type of form would be a simple small sheet which employees fill in each time and pass to HR.
The requester should be aware of the policies in the previous step. These may be included on the holiday form so that it is clear., prior to the request being made.
The approver should seek to confirm/reject the request as soon as possible. They should sign the request form and then pass the details to the person who manages entitlements centrally i.e HR or update their records themselves.
When a request is accepted the absence should be booked and recorded so that the business has clear sight of current and upcoming absences. This may be via a simple wall planner chart, a spreadsheet or you may have other internal software which you are using for absence management.
Whichever system you use, being able to track, and manage, remaining holiday entitlements is crucial. You should ensure that holidays are removed from an employees entitlement as they are booked and that there is a clear view of what has been given, taken and is left. These figures may be contained on the employee form, in a staff holiday book, on a spreadsheet or in your absence management system. It should be a quick and simple process to access these records.
Being Flexible and Accommodating
There will be occasions where the needs of the business will mean you will need to decline some holiday requests. Either because the request breaches the holiday policy or because the absence will be too disruptive to the business at that time.
However there will also be occasions when you can relax the holiday policy rule for a certain request. For instance an employee who needs to book a short notice holiday for childcare in the school holidays, or of there is a particular quiet spell within the business you may seek to actively encourage staff to book holidays.
Being seen to be fair, and accommodating, to your employees when you can will offset the occasions when you do need to decline request. It will help develop a content, satisfied team that can only be positive for your business.
Holidays and Time and Attendance
All of the points above will help you to achieve good staff holiday management. A tool which can often be overlooked for achieving this is a computerised Time and Attendance system. As well as managing your employee working times, a good time and attendance system will include the ability to manage your team holidays and other absences.
Features, many of which compliment the points made above, should include;
- Assigning holiday entitlements / renewing entitlements each year
- Automatically reporting remaining entitlements
- Preventing employees overbooking holidays
- Departmental reporting to help prevent under-staffing
- Entitlements via Days, Hours or Accruals
- Staff Holiday Cards – Easily show employees what they have taken/booked
One particular feature you may wish to look for is Staff Self Service. Tied in to your Time and Attendance system employees make and manage their requests through their own interface. Completely removing the need for paper records and holiday forms, employees send their requests directly to their supervisor. After a quick check of the calendar, approving the request will automatically add the holiday into the system. The employee receives an instant email back to confirm their holiday has been approved. If it is declined, the supervisor can add notes explaining why.
If you would like to speak to us about our solutions, including holiday and absence management then please get in touch