Your employees love working at your company, of course. But what they probably love too is looking forward to their well-earned holidays. Dreaming about, planning for and actually going on holiday is a huge part of what drives our motivation to earn hard cash in the first place! Not to mention the thoughtfully posed snaps to place on social media causing desk-bound colleagues to go green with envy.
Being fair to everyone
The nightmare comes when everyone wants to go away at the same time. In a small business, this is absolutely critical. How on earth do you manage a busy Dad’s request to have his holiday during his kid’s half term, with the music fanatic who absolutely has to go to her favourite festival then? Is it fair to always make the non-parents give way to the working mums? What about the workers with caring responsibilities outside of work? Or your altruistic workers who would like to work with refugees for two weeks? Sometimes it seems like you need the wisdom of Solomon to decide who has first dibs to take their leave when.
With decades of managing these tricky dilemmas, we at Air believe that setting up some basic rules and guidelines can help eliminate most of these problems. It might even mean that YOU can have a break too! If you run a business, chances are this is the last thing on your mind – but its even more essential!
What to think about when creating a holiday policy.
Start by deciding how many people can be off at one time in each part of the business. Are there certain teams or groups where you always need at least one or two people there? Don’t set this up if it isn’t really necessary. In customer facing roles of course it is. But be creative with other roles, there might be ways you can schedule work to be more flexible.
Then decide how much notice you need. You might be OK with people going off at short notice…most of the time. But its sensible to set up a rule of between 10 days and two weeks notice. This will allow you to manage issues further down the line that you don’t expect when you are a small team. Always let it be at your discretion however, to give you flexibility. BUT – be aware of creating what we like to call “hostages to fortune”. If Ben was allowed to take a couple of days off without any notice that might have been OK when you were quiet. But then when Tanya wants to have next Monday off, but you need her to work on a project that’s due for Tuesday, she would be pretty disgruntled if you apply a different set of rules to her.
A well thought out holiday policy can really help you manage the practical difficulties. And there are useful tools such as Air’s beautiful and simple holiday calendar to help you keep track of who is off when. You can download a free holiday policy template from Air that you can customize in a matter of minutes to suit your business.
What the law says
The most basic decision is how much holiday to give. You must offer your full time workers 28 days holiday, this is known as statutory leave and normally includes the 8 UK bank holidays. Of course, you are free to offer more, and many companies do. Sometimes this is added as an incentive for long service and workers will accrue additional days over time. Some companies give more days off from the get go, and there may be the option of sabbaticals. You also need to decide what period is OK. Are you OK with people having four weeks off at once for example?
For part time workers, their leave is calculated on a pro-rata basis. You can offer additional days holiday if you choose to do so. Make sure you set up a simple system, such as Air’s time off calendar, to record and monitor holidays in your team. This way you will avoid the dreaded clash, or the horrible shock of finding out two of your team are away on the very day you need to pitch to your biggest client.
Be sure that you have guidance on carrying over leave, buying and selling leave, and any additional entitlements. It’s a really good idea to have guidance too on other authorized leave such as that required for jury or military service or bereavement. You can find template policies for all of this in Air, and you can also easily create different types of time off to suit your business. If you allow flexible working, we have guidelines for this too.
Whatever you decide to offer your employees, take care that the guidance is implemented fairly for everyone. We’ve seen businesses where individual managers were allowing paid leave for incidental childcare days and other one-off needs in one particular department of the business, but the manager in another area refused this. Obviously it created resentment amongst employees!
Then, make sure that you tell all your people what the rules are. Set up and share your holiday policy, make sure you explain this when you onboard new hires, and you are off to a flying start. Use a system like Air’s shared company files which instantly updates and informs your staff, when you make changes. This way, no-one has any excuses if you had to change the rules for business reasons.
Finally, the issue of holiday calculation can cause headaches. Never lose track of people’s holidays again with Air’s real-time HR dashboard, it does all the hard work for you, and shows you at a glance who is off and when, and how much leave is still to take.
All of this is relatively straightforward. Holidays can become more complicated if you decide that a different type of holiday policy is right for you, say, unlimited holiday. Find out more about unlimited holiday policies here.
Now that you’ve sorted this out, we think you should plan a break yourself!
To make your life easier, we’ve created a comprehensive library of free HR policy templates covering all the main policies you’ll need in your business here.