If you want a break over the summer or staff need time off, August can turn into a stressful month. To help, Business Link has created a ten-point holiday checklist which business owners can use to ensure they are ready for the summer season.
Business Link Ten-Point Holiday Checklist
1. Plan in advance – Make sure you have clear procedures in place for booking annual leave ensuring that everyone is aware of the process. Have a calendar somewhere visible so people can check for clashes before they submit their annual leave request, and make sure that you keep a record of annual leave on a central system.
2. Remind employees how much leave they have left or ask them to check if they don’t. Have a process by which employees can be reminded how much time they have to take and by when. Don’t leave this until the end of the holiday year. If you do you’ll find that everyone is away over a very short period or some employees will feel disgruntled that they have to lose leave because they can’t take it.
3. Monitor your busy months – There may be seasonal fluctuations in your workload. If so you will want to discourage employees from taking holiday at your busiest times. Communicate this well in advance.
4. Balance employees’ holidays – Make sure that employees know they can’t all take their leave at the same time. Key specialisms, as well as business areas, need to be covered. For example, how will the business cope if the IT support is on holiday? Are there enough First Aiders to meet statutory requirements?
5. Consider employees’ circumstances – You may operate a first-come first-served basis but also try to take account of the restraints on some employees. For example, if you have a lot of employees with children you may want to encourage other employees to take leave outside school holidays.
6. Adapt your holiday ‘year’ for each employee – If you run your holiday year from 1st April you will probably find that everyone wants to use up their annual leave in March. Some businesses run their annual leave year from the date that an employee starts. While this is more complicated it can avoid the rush to book a holiday at the end of the year.
7. Encourage employees to take their holiday – In the current economic climate some employees may be reluctant to take their annual leave due to worries about job security. It is a manager’s responsibility to encourage employees to use their holiday allowance and to make sure their working patterns enable them to take their leave as it is important to take time off to relax. Managers should set an example by using their annual leave allowance at appropriate times.
8. Decide whether employees can carry over holiday entitlement above the statutory minimum which should be taken in the leaver year. Agree a consistent policy on whether employees can carry annual leave over to the following year and if so, how many days. It may be tempting in the current climate to allow employees to carry over as many days as possible. However, managers should balance out the need for staff to take time off with the requirements of the business.
9. Train temporary employees – If you need to hire temporary employees to cover for absences then give due consideration to training and induction.
10. Use quiet times to benefit your business – If the holiday period is a quiet time for your business, take the opportunity to do things that will help in the long term, such as reviewing your business plan, undertaking maintenance work or conducting a customer survey.
Business Link adviser, Alexandra Shoobert says: “With school holidays and the good weather, many people will want to take their time off during the summer months.”
“Holiday periods are regular, definable events and businesses cannot allow themselves to miss delivery deadlines or reduce customer service because of inadequate preparation and staff scheduling. This can have a negative effect on your business, especially during the current economic climate where companies are working harder than ever with fewer staff. The Business Link holiday checklist should help managers prepare and make the best of their business whatever the season.”
Legislation launched in April of this year guaranteed that a worker’s statutory paid holiday entitlement increased to 28 days per year for an employee working a five-day week, which takes into account the public holidays although there is no automatic entitlement to these days off.
Ian Hughes, Director of Birmingham-based digital marketing agency, LHM Media which employs 10 people says: “There are so many things to remember when planning staff leave – and it quickly creeps up on you so it’s best to be prepared. We often have tight deadlines that we need to hit for our clients and so can’t afford to be without a lot of staff at any one time. Of course some things in the checklist may seem obvious but it is a helpful reminder to ensure we haven’t left anything to the last minute.”
Employers can calculate the amount of holiday an employee is entitled by visiting the Business Link website – www.businesslink.gov.uk/holiday