With the Summer season in full swing and international travel restrictions reported to be easing, Summer 2021 presents a unique set of challenges for businesses. From quarantining employees through to high amounts of untaken annual leave and cancelled holiday requests, we’ve taken a look at the most common HR problems and the best way to handle them:
Last Minute Holiday Requests and Cancellations
With rules around travel restrictions frequently changing, employers may see an increase in short-notice holiday requests, changes or even cancellations. Understandably, businesses will have operational requirements meaning accommodating fairly can become a challenge, so what is the right way to tackle this?
Now is the time to refer to your Holiday Policy, clearly defining rules around holiday requests including the business standpoint on giving notice for a request, change or cancellation. It is useful to remind employees of the justification for this business decision, for example the operational impact.
Remember, an employee’s holiday notice must be given in line with one of the below:
- Double the length of their holiday
- The period outlined in their Employment Contract
Should an employee wish to cancel holiday due to travel restrictions or flight cancellations, a business does not have to agree (unless the employee has the right to cancel annual leave under their Employment Contract). However, given the impact of the pandemic on employees, consider how this might affect employee relations should you refuse. Take a balanced view and ask, can we be flexible to support their needs? Are we busy enough over the Summer period to provide sufficient work? Or, can we not justify the accumulation of annual leave that’s built up.
Quarantining upon return from foreign holiday
While “indicative plans” suggest self-isolation requirements will end for the double-jabbed on 16th August, currently employees may have to self-isolate for up to 10 days on their return to the UK from a trip abroad.
Businesses need to consider if and how they can allow for the self-isolation period. Key questions to ask:
- Can the employee work remotely, either from home or a quarantine hotel?
- Does the employee have enough annual leave to take period as holiday?
- Can you accommodate other types of leave, such as a period of unpaid leave?
Remember, a business can reject an annual leave request if the length of absence cannot be accommodated, or if the employee does not have enough leave to take the entire self-isolation period.
Annual Leave Accumulation – Holiday Build Up
With the pandemic having created an unreliable environment for holiday booking, you may find your team have accumulated their holiday entitlement as they are reluctant to take it.
This may begin to present operational challenges for your business:
- The potential for too many leave requests later in the year
- High volume of requests to carry leave over to 2022
An option for Employers is to set specific periods of the year as annual leave, for example if you know specific months are quieter for your business. If you opt to do this, you must give the correct notice to employees – at least twice the number of working days that you are requiring employees to take.
For confidential advice on any HR matters, including Furloughed Employees, we provide the opportunity for a 15 minute support call with Director Suzanne Hurndall – book straight to calendar below:
With specialist expertise in leadership, change management, strategy, acquisition, workplace culture, transformation and discrimination, Suzanne is passionate people leader motivated by unlocking the potential of people, teams and organisations through teamwork and collaboration.