Holidays – the silly season is nearly upon us

Holidays – the silly season is nearly upon us

This is the time of year the rows start – the annual leave booking season. Wall calendars and online calendars are pored over and leave is booked, most of it around the same time, there will be rows between parents and non parents about who should take priority and why and on we go.

So it makes sense to have a few set of rules to try and take the tension out of the whole thing.

Firstly be clear about how much leave can be blocked in one go i.e. one, two week blocks (financial services now insist on this), if there is a cap i.e. two weeks maximum etc

Secondly, be clear how much advance notice must be given, a month’s notice is usually acceptable if you want to book a week, 2 days is not acceptable if you want to book anything at all and if leave needs to be approved by a manager or some such.

Thirdly, be clear leave can be refused, obviously as a last resort and with good reason but it’s good to get the story straight.

Fourthly, be very clear about how many employees can be out at the same time. It never ceases to amaze me, no matter how often you say it and set the limits, they will give it a go anyway and all book the same time off and fight about it for weeks afterwards.

Fifthly, be very clear what precedents you want to set i.e. if you had the first two weeks off in July last year, you might not get it this year, same goes for half terms, school holidays and Christmas.

Sixthly, what the rules are if you are sick on holidays (holiday can be claimed back if proven), if your flight is delayed (usually unpaid, get proof) and you don’t get back when you are supposed to, the rules around social media and mixing the professional with personal, working on holiday, using the work mobile on holiday etc.

And as an aside, it’s amazing how many of my clients who are schools that have set holidays agreed years in advance, encounter the same problems with leave! So if you are a school struggling with leave requests outside of school holidays, call me 0330 555 1139.

Finally, be fair, consistent and apply the rules to all staff, no exceptions.

If in doubt contact CrosseHR, we’ll draft a policy for you to be proud of.

St Patrick’s Day: Time for a Holiday?

St Patrick’s Day: Time for a Holiday?

St Patrick’s Day is once again upon us and this Thursday people around the world will be dressed in green and gold, Guinness in hand and post probably having a good’ol time. Whilst not a public holiday in most of the world should workers be given the day off anyway? Would this increase productivity?

A recent survey by the Chartered Management Institute suggests that a majority of workers are cancelling out their own statutory leave every year owing to the advent of handheld devices. Smartphones and tablets were responsible for 4 out of 5 of the 1,500 managers surveyed working an extra hour a day answering out-of-hours emails and going over documents. The extra hours equate to just over 29 days per year cancelling the 28 statutory days leave. The study also suggested that putting in too many hours leads to work related injury, both physical and mental, and may result in burnout.

Recruitment giant Reed.co.uk found that 54% of workers forgo an average of 3 days leave a year and a quarter of Brits would rather forfeit the occasional day of than leave work unfinished or fall behind. There are many reasons workers choose not to take annual leave days and often this is attached to company ethos around the matter; many employees feel guilty about taking statutory leave, further they dread returning to an overflowing inbox and an intensified workload. Studies also suggest that staff who don’t want to take their statutory leave, rolling it into the next year, end up taking sick days which balances the figure out in any case.

The average French worker clocks 1,500 hours per year and can expect to receive 30 days paid vacation. Traditionally the french working week equals 35 hours and any hours worked after this are be considered overtime. The Office of National Statistics released a report in 2013 showing that on average the British worker is 27-31% less productive per hour than their French and German counterparts. Whilst this cannot be attributed to annual leave alone the figures certainly suggest a less is more approach has been paying off on the continent. French companies spend more on labour saving practices rather than recruiting meaning they get more for their money out of their workers per hour.

Some firms have started to adopt unlimited holiday policies which allow employees to take off as much time as they want provided their work gets done. Global giant Virgin is one such company, CEO and magnate Richard Branson notes in his book ‘The Virgin Way’; 

“It is left to the employee to decide if and when he or she feels like taking a few hours, a day, a week or a month off, the assumption being that they are only going to do it when they feel a hundred percent comfortable … that their absence will not in any way damage the business — or, for that matter, their careers!”

The model is results focused and companies who also adopt a similar system, such as Netflix, expect employees to be high performing rewarding performance with holiday. At Netflix nobody tracks employee’s time; instead of micromanaging how employees do their work the employee is given autonomy over how they manage their time, this is said to promote a more efficient and responsible workforce. A focus is placed on results and managers are kept in the loop though effective communication and accountability policies. It is believed that unlimited holiday attracts talent and pays off in terms of retention and reduced sickness.

However there has been growing concern that this does more harm than good as the lack of a clearly defined annual leave policy makes employees question; how much is too much holiday? Employees are reluctant to take up leave as they feel their asking for leave will have an impact on their career prospects. The lack of clear guidance can lead to employee’s over working themselves which can have the opposite effect on their health and well-being that unlimited holiday is supposed to promote.

Annual leave policies are extremely important for any business given the potentially damaging effects of getting it wrong. It seems that company culture towards leave can have a real impact on employee wellbeing and of course productivity and sickness.

CrosseHR provides consultancy services  to businesses and can help address policy issues, managing leave and sickness as well as improving employee relations. Call 0330 555 1139 or email us at hello@crossehr.co.uk, you can also follow us on twitter for HR highlights, insights and updates.