6 min read | 27 September, 2021 By Laura Sands
Creating a holiday policy for your business is a simple yet important step in ensuring your business runs smoothly and happily all year long.
Creating a holiday policy might seem like unnecessary paperwork, especially as it’s not a legal requirement. However, without the clarity of a holiday policy, your employees and managers are left to deal with leave requests on their own terms – and that’s something that can quickly get out of hand.
Although managing holiday bookings might seem like a simple task, it can quickly become something of a nightmare zone. Juggling multiple holiday requests while ensuring you have enough staff to run your business may mean you have to turn down holiday requests. At best, it’s an inconvenience for employees, at worst it can be a heartbreaking blow to an employee who has saved up for and coordinated a long-awaited trip to see their family.
Unfortunately, mishandled holiday bookings can take their toll on employee engagement and team morale. Which is where a fair holiday policy comes in. By creating a holiday policy that is easy to understand and follow, you help manage expectations which in turn reduces the tension and resentment that might otherwise creep in. Your employees will know how to book their holidays, your managers will feel confident in turning down holiday requests without causing upset and your business will be run by people who are rested, happy and engaged.
The laws relating to holidays and employees are straightforward. According to The Working Time Regulations 1998, workers are entitled to a minimum of 28 days annual leave which should include eight bank holidays and 20 statutory days. This should be pro-rated for employees who work part-time or who do shift work. You can use our handy holiday entitlement calculator to calculate how much leave your employees are entitled to.
This holiday time should be paid, and benefits that the worker would receive while working should be included as standard.
Despite having a holiday allowance, employers are able to dictate when workers may and may not take their leave. There is no legal guidance to help employers manage and prioritise leave requests – and it is the resulting inconsistency that can cause problems. For this reason, creating a fair holiday policy can help you and your staff manage holidays far more easily.
To make sure your holiday policy is fair, you should make sure it is clear and provides enough guidance to prevent bad feeling if leave requests are denied. Ultimately, a fair holiday policy needs to include information which tells your team how to book leave without making them feel as if they’re entering a lottery. And on the other hand, it needs to make managers feel confident that they can turn down leave requests if fulfilling the requests would leave them short-staffed.
There are of course many factors to consider when you build your holiday policy. For that reason, some HR-support organisations have created a holiday policy checklist.
We love the CIPD holiday policy checklist. It’s free to CIPD subscribers, but even if you’re not a CIPD subscriber you can download it for free,
Looking for some examples of holiday policies? Many companies publish their holiday policies online and there’s nothing to stop you from having a peek at them for inspiration. Here are two we found…
This holiday policy is from Oomph! Wellness, a wellbeing business focused on older adults. It’s been written in a relaxed, easy to understand style which makes it feel very accessible.
Here is Bupa’s holiday policy, it’s more formal in style but clear and we like the way it includes some very human touches such as their policy towards letting people take their birthdays as holiday.
Managing holiday requests and bookings can be one of those jobs that’s more difficult than it seems. What should be a simple process of collecting dates and making sure there are no clashes, becomes a minefield. You get the employees who get a verbal ‘OK’ with their manager and forget to log their holiday on the tracker. Those who always forget how much time they have available to take as leave and those who never take any time off at all!
Many of the problems that come with managing holiday requests can be reduced by formalising your holiday request process. Using automated software such as Breathe’s Holiday Tracking tool keeps holiday management simple and stress-free.
For example, Breathe’s Holiday planner and booking system lets you:
And it’s not just managers who benefit from Breathe’s holiday planner. Employees can use it to:
Looking for extra help in creating your own holiday policy? Our network of HR Partners may be able to help. Find an HR consultant near you by using our HR Partner directory.