Posted on: 16 March 2020
What you need to know about time off for your team
In the Working Time Regulations 1998 for England, Scotland and Wales and the Working Time Regulations 1998 for Northern Ireland, all employees in the United Kingdom must receive a minimum of 5.6 weeks, or 28 days annual leave a year.
You should agree with your employees the specific amount of time off allowed at the start of their employment, either in a written contract or statement of employment.
Overview of the laws
You’ll see below a brief overview of some of the laws regarding annual leave for your team and how they might be changing in the future.
Calculating holiday pay
To work out how much you need to pay your employees for annual leave, use this guide:
- Fixed hours and fixed pay – The amount that the worker receives for a week of work
- Shift work with fixed hours – The number of weekly fixed hours worked in the last 12 weeks at the average hourly rate
In April 2020, the law will change for workers with no fixed hours, such as those on zero-hour contracts.
- 2019 – Average pay over the previous 12 weeks
- From April 2020 – Average wage for the full 52 weeks of the year
Accruing and carrying over
An employee’s annual leave will start to build up as soon as they start working at your business. You will need to define the dates of the annual leave year in their employee contract; for example, January 1st to December 31st. For every employee, their annual leave entitlement will start on the first day of employment.
Because the allowance starts immediately, if your employee decides to leave their post during the year, you will need to pay for any time that they have accrued but not used.
There is no legal requirement for you to allow employees to carry annual leave days over, although you may allow your employees to carry over 1.6 weeks, at your discretion.
Notice and approval of holiday
A member of your team will have to give you notice if they want to take annual leave. You can choose to add this detail into your employment contract; otherwise, the rule of thumb is that the notice should be twice as long as the requested amount of time off. For example, if an employee wants to take two weeks off, they should give 4 weeks’ notice.
As an employer, you can reject a request for time off, as long as you also give as much notice as the time requested. For example, if the time off is 2 weeks, you should give 2 weeks’ notice to reject a holiday.
You should also be aware that you may restrict the time off an employee has at certain times of the year, such as busy seasonal periods. Make sure that your employee knows this when they first start. You should also be aware that you can’t refuse to allow employees to take the leave at all.
Annual leave and school holidays
School holidays can be difficult for a business as the members of your team will want to take time off around school holiday times so that they can either go on holiday or just spend time with their children, but there are also reasons that those without children may want or need to take time off during these holiday periods.
As a business owner, you can’t give preferential holiday time to parents, so take a look below at how you can make annual leave during school term and holiday times fair between your employees.
Implement a minimum staff limit
You should make it clear to your colleagues that at no time throughout the year should there be a certain amount of staff unavailable.
For example, depending on the size of your team, you could implement a rule that there can be no fewer than 50% of your team off at any one time. This number could be changed depending on how many there are in your team.
To make this work, you will need to be on top of holiday requests, as you will need to make sure that you give an employee enough time to reject their holiday request.
First come, first serve
The fairest method of deciding who gets to go on holiday is having a system of “first come, first served” when it comes to booking holiday time.
Whilst this may disappoint some of your team, it should encourage them to be more proactive about using their holiday hours and securing the time off when they need it.
Encourage effective communication
To make sure that your team get the time off when they want it, you should encourage your team to talk about when they need time off so that there is no disappointment.
Even though not all of your team have children, they still might need to take time off in school holidays, especially when there may be weddings in summer or family plans around Christmas.
It is important that your team communicate with each other about annual leave to ensure that, whilst parents might be disappointed by your decision, their colleagues also have the time off that they need.
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Source: Zywave inc. – Employment Law Summary: Annual Leave Entitlement
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