Philip Sayers, Employment lawyer at Coodes Solicitors comments on Christmas annual leave issues that can arise for employers.
“Annual leave years are often set up as being between 1st January and 31st December. This means that as Christmas approaches, many employees will not have used their holiday entitlement for the year. Employees in this position will be eager to take any outstanding annual leave, because most employers have rules which either preclude carrying leave over into the following year or restrict the number of days that can be carried over. In other words, if you don’t use it you lose it.
“This scenario causes problems because employers are often not able to accommodate a lot of employees wanting to use up their remaining annual leave in December as it would leave them short staffed. That creates a tension with an employee’s right to take the leave and the employer’s general duty of care towards their employees. After all, the rationale for paid holiday is as a health and safety measure.
“The best way to manage this is to have clear rules about the amount of holiday that can be taken in December, which are well publicised in advance. Where practical, employees who have a lot of entitlement remaining for the year should be encouraged to take leave in the autumn. There have been some Tribunal cases which have stated that although leave does not generally carry over into the next year that should happen where the employee has been unable to take it within the annual leave year. The employer is not obliged to ensure that the employee takes holiday. However, to minimise the possibility of being deemed to have prevented the employee from taking their leave entitlement employers should try to proactively manage the situation.
“Other employees will find their employers have a Christmas shut down period that they were required to hold back leave for and haven’t done so.
“A practical solution is simply to exclude the required number of days from the leave that an employee can book during the course of the year. In any event, a mechanism within the Working Time Regulations 1998 allows an employer to compel an employee to take leave on certain dates. To do this they must give at least twice as much notice as the number of days leave they wish the employee to take but in practice it would be wise to do this much earlier as otherwise the required leave may have been booked and taken in the meantime.
“So that everyone in the business can relax and enjoy their Christmas break, it is advisable to plan for this as soon as possible – ideally at the beginning of the New Year.”
For more information on this or any Employment enquiries contact Philip Sayers, Employment team, Coodes Solicitors on 01872 246200 or email@example.com