December 5, 2019

How Should Employers Handle Leave Requests Over Christmas

This post was written by: Ilinca Mardarescu

While the year wraps up for many people it can sometimes be a stressful, busy and worrisome time for employers. Christmas can always be a challenging time when it comes to leave and employees, with many staff expecting time off over the Christmas break to spend time with love ones and family. But, with some businesses potentially taking a hit in productivity and profits if their business loses the majority or all of their manpower over the festive season, it’s inevitable the question can sometimes rise ‘How should I handle staff wanting time off over Christmas?’

Restrict Holiday or telling Employees to take it.

As an employer you are entitled to restrict when an employee takes their holiday leave if it adversely affects the business, for instance in busy periods. It is also the employers prerogative to tell staff to take leave at particular times of the year should they deem fit.

If, as an employer, you want to refuse leave to an employee then it is generally accepted that you give them as much notice as possible; the minimum being as much as the leave amount requested. But remember, legally and in the interest of overall engagement of your employees it is recommended that you act fairly.

Everyone wants time off but you need people over the busy period.

Many businesses unavoidably have a busy time over Christmas, especially those in the retail sector. Firstly, it is recommended you state in your employee contract that Christmas holiday is restricted and that the employees must give at-least twice the leave period notice to ask for holiday (for instance 4 weeks before for a 2 week holiday).

Things like rotas or first-come-first-serve could be your best option. It’s important to establish an unbiased and fair system for those wanting to book holiday. Using software and good processes can help alleviate the stress of juggling many leave requests.

Ultimately it comes down to employee expectations and clarity, if you’re upfront about your situation as early as possible it will help employees come to terms with the decision, make arrangements and help alleviate a potential hit to moral.

Need to change your mind on granted holiday?

This is technically possible for an employer to do, you have the right to retract granted holiday for business critical emergencies. But, keep in mind this is firstly highly inadvisable for an employees’ contentment point of view, as well as incurring the danger of needing to pay out compensation on travel or booked holiday arrangements made by the said employee.

Tips to handle Christmas Holiday correctly:

  • Try to create a yearly rota if people are required to be in over the holiday. Or, offer the day off to some employees and swap it over the next year.
  • Actively encourage your employees to put in their holiday request as far in advance as possible.
  • Implement easy to use software or processes for submitting holiday for staff.
  • Seek a professional to help write out a clear and well-written employment contract and/or holiday leave policy, to help avoid contention and keep expectations clear.

If you’re worried about the holiday and your preparedness for it in the coming month, then don’t hesitate to call our employee law experts who can not only help you refresh your employment contracts, but also discuss potential legal issues with employees.