How should bosses deal with a flurry of holiday requests?

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As many workplaces reinstate furloughed employees, there may be a flurry of leave requests for employers to figure out (Picture: PA Media)

For the past few months, many have had to juggle work, family and school life at home. Now, as the Prime Minister urges those who can get back to work safely to do so, the return to the office is going to bring back issues that haven't surfaced during the furlough period – particularly holiday allocation.

The summer holidays are well underway, and this is one of the most popular times for leave requests during 'normal' circumstances. But how can employers decide how to grant holiday for staff fairly? Peterborough-based recruitment firm Anne Corder Recruitment has shared some advice.

Nel Woolcott, recruitment partner, said: "On the face of it, this is quite a sensitive issue, and one which employers will no doubt have their personal opinions on when it comes to their own business.

"We must remember that being furloughed doesn’t mean that those affected have been 'on holiday' for the past four months, and in fact may have felt the pressures – both financially and psychologically – of not being able to work. Furloughed workers can request and take their holiday in the usual way, if their employer agrees. This includes bank holidays.

"On the flip side, there are many, many employees who have continued to work through these difficult times who are now wanting to book a holiday or simply take a break from the 9 to 5 and the routine of working from home for their physical and mental health."

Nel continued: "The school holidays are now officially under way, and for many people – furloughed or working – childcare can present its own challenges; particularly if out of school clubs, grandparents, play dates or other options are not available.

"Some employers will have asked staff to use some of their holiday entitlement during lockdown or offered to carry over some days to avoid too many people being out of the business at the same time."

It's a good idea to:

  • Talk about any plans to use or cancel holiday during coronavirus as soon as possible 
  • Discuss why holiday might need to be taken or cancelled
  • Listen to any concerns, either from staff or the employer
  • Welcome and suggest ideas for other options
  • Consider everyone's physical and mental wellbeing
  • Be aware that it's a difficult time for both employers and staff

Nel added: "During the coronavirus pandemic, it may not be possible for staff to take all their holiday entitlement during the current holiday year. Employers should still be encouraging workers and employees to take their paid holiday."

The government has introduced a temporary new law allowing employees and workers to carry over up to 4 weeks' paid holiday into their next two holiday leave years. This law applies for any holiday the employee or worker does not take because of coronavirus – for example: if they're self-isolating or too sick to take holiday before the end of their leave year, or if they've had to continue working and could not take paid holiday.

They may also be able to carry over holiday if they’ve been 'furloughed' and cannot reasonably use it in their holiday year.