It’s that time of year again where offices are entering into their final busy peak of the year before the Christmas holidays fall upon us. With the rush of excitement and frenetic energy employers focus into their business, to ensure they end the year on a financial high, it is easy to allow employee holiday entitlement to take a back seat.
From the perspective of the employer there is a level of expectation that employees should hold responsibility for ensuring that they utilise their holiday entitlement. However, there is a problem with that point of view, as booking and actually getting time off from work requires a two-way dialogue between the employer and the employee. With the busy nature of the work environment, it is also easy for employees to forget about their annual leave, or to push it aside till the last minute, at which point managers will receive a huge influx of requests, some of which will naturally have to be declined.
As an employer, you have the right to impose reasonable restrictions on when employees can take their annual leave. For example you can ensure that a minimum number of staff members are working in a department at a certain time, or you can force staff to have certain weeks off, for example if the office has to be shut down for annual maintenance.
In a situation where a large number of employees are yet to have taken all of their holidays, upon the employer’s discretion, they may be able to carry over any remaining but may only carry over anything in excess of four working weeks. For example, if an employee gets 28 days holiday a year, they may be able to carry over eight days to the next holiday year. Employees who receive statutory leave don’t have an automatic right to carry leave over to the next holiday year, but employers may agree to it.
As an alternative, employers may decide to implement a sell-back scheme, whereby employees can purchase a particular amount of their holiday entitlement at the end of the year. As above, this would be dependent on the number of holidays each employee is entitled to annually.
It is in an employer’s best interest to encourage their employees to take their specified annual leave. Work will always be busy, but a certain amount of time should be factored in to enable employees to enjoy personal time. For the employee taking time off will provide them with the opportunity to have down-time, where they can rest and recuperate, coming back to work refreshed for the challenges ahead. This will prove valuable to employers, well-rested staff will be more productive and efficient in the workplace.
Alan Price is employment law director of Peninsula.