Managing annual leave in your workplace

Managing annual leave in your workplace

Managing annual leave should be an easy task but can be problematic at work, there are varying reasons for this, such as poor planning, a lack of understanding of entitlement, peaks in trading leading to a requirement for cover, dips in morale, team absence as a result and rising attrition rates; as well as Employers making payment instead.

In our article, we look at how you can combat this in your workplace.


What is annual leave entitlement and how do I know I am offering the correct amount?

Statutory holiday entitlement for an Employee working 5 days/full time is 20 days, along with usual bank / public holidays of 8, which means their full entitlement for the year is 28 days (or 5.6 weeks). If an Employee works part-time their entitlement should be prorated based on their hour’s work/days.


As an Employer, you can also provide contractual holiday entitlement, this is in excess of the statutory entitlement, and means the additional leave is added to an Employees Contract of Employment as ‘contractual leave’, it can be an excellent benefit to your Employees; a word of warning, this can only work if you are prepared for your team not being around, perks such as extra days off, additional bank holidays (subject to contractual obligations) and birthdays off can seem like a great idea, but mat not work in practice when you need the cover, service levels and productivity may take an almighty dip. It can place the rest of your team under pressure and can be counterproductive as the pressure mounts on your Employees to perform.

Finding the right balance in your workplace is key and you need to assess your operational needs requirements and aligning with your staffing levels; if you get this right, you should not go too wrong.

You may also have heard about unlimited leave this has become popular in recent times, whilst being a little controversial, and can be a little ‘hyped up’ it can work in many ways, it doesn’t all need to be in the form of ‘paid’ or ‘annual leave’ in fact many Employers offering this as a benefit in their businesses are doing so as an ‘unpaid’ perk, they are in effect offering leave such as ‘dependants leave’ as this can be unpaid it costs nothing for the business so in effect can be seen as a cost-saving exercise.

Again, whilst this may seem like a good idea in principle, on the flip side, for those not taking advantage and left covering in the workplace, let’s say they cannot afford to take unpaid leave, or there’s a real requirement for them to be in work, they are working on a high profile task/project, they are the ones left holding the fort (so to speak) it can cause ‘burn out’ leading to sickness absence as a result. For those, who are in a standalone role you may find they deem it disproportionate, and they may feel discriminated against, let’s face it how can they take leave? you may find that your attrition rates increase, that is because not everyone can rely on unpaid leave and will undoubtedly become disillusioned and seek alternative employment. In the worst-case scenario, you may face a tribunal case.


Do I need to pay for additional Bank Holidays – such as the King’s Coronation?

You may have been caught out in recent years with the allocation of additional Bank Holidays, having extra ones in 2022 and there is another one in 2023 for the Kings Coronation Kings Coronation on 8 May 2023.

Whilst it is correct that statutory legislation does not make provisions for ‘additional bank holidays’, it is however, dependent on the wording contained in your Employee/s Contracts of Employment that does catch Employers out, we advise that you seek the advice of HR Professionals when drafting Contracts of Employment, making fundamental mistakes can be costly, not just in payments but they can lead to claims for unpaid leave.


Should I manage Annual Leave or is it my Employees responsibility?

It is important to manage annual leave correctly, in a way that supports everyone in the workplace and reacts to business needs. As an employer, it is of course best practice to ensure that your Employees have a healthy work/life/home balance.

Your Employee/s should manage their own entitlement and plan ahead accordingly, we would suggest that every Employee should know and understand their individual entitlement, that they should be kept up to date with how much leave they have taken, what they have left and what the expectations are for booking/taking leave.  As an Employer, you should communicate your policy and procedure.

You can use many ways to communicate, allocate, track, and manage leave entitlement, the best way is to use a HR Software system, we include HR Software in many of our packages for our clients, and it is an excellent way to manage your people.


How should leave be managed?

It is safe to say that if annual leave is not managed effectively it can easily get out of control, I am sure in many workplaces there are Employees that are super organised in planning/booking in line with policy and those who are not. Taking leave not only promotes well-being it is important for Employers to recognise that rejecting leave can lead to low morale, a reduction in productivity, and an increase in absence and attrition.

Here are some very simple ways to manage leave, they include:


  • leave entitlement should be included in an individual’s Contract of Employment
  • it should include statutory leave along with any contractual entitlement (where applicable)

You should have a policy/procedure that includes:


  • how much notice your Employees need to provide
  • how to book/request
  • who to book with
  • how many Employees can be off at any one time
  • any times that are embargoed (Christmas, Easter, or any other peak times)
  • if leave can be carried over (into following year) and how many days
  • if leave can be refused how and why
  • can leave be paid as part of notice period
  • can you enforce leave (to do so double the amount of notice must be provided)


You would normally set these out in your Employee Handbook, by doing so it assists all parties the policy/procedure for leave at work.

As mentioned the best way to manage leave of any type is by using HR Software, we include HR Software in many of our packages for our clients, it is an excellent way to manage your people.


How can we help?

We are experts dealing with your HR and Employment Law matters, we can assist you should you need our support with managing annual leave, policy writing, or Contracts of Employment, you can contact one of our team today and we can assist you; contact us on: 0333 0069489 or email us on: [email protected]





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