Summer bank holiday has been and gone and now we're looking to the last quarter of the year.
It's not exactly been the year we expected with weddings and holidays cancelled or postponed to 2021. My honeymoon included! Hubs and I should have been jetting off for an all American road trip in October. Although we have been able to postpone our travels, it brought to mind that I haven't had a "proper" holiday since 2017. I've not even had a full week off this year. How many of you can relate?
This isn't just a problem because we all love getting away from the 9-5. It's a problem because no one is as effective at their work when they're burnt out. Employees who have regular breaks from work are more likely to be happy and productive.
The government amended the Working Time Regulations to allow employers to carry over additional leave into the next two leave years to help curb the impact of COVID & furlough on service delivery.
Whilst it is a helpful move from old Boris, I feel it draws attention away from the fact that employees need a break. Furlough does not count as a holiday. Granted, not many people have been able to do much whilst furloughed, it doesn't mean it's been relaxing. Holiday is a statutory entitlement to allow employees proper rest and relaxation, and we just can't assume people have had that rest recently. With the stress of the whole pandemic thing, homeschooling the kids, looking after the elderly and vulnerable and struggling to get hold of loo roll I doubt anyone has had a really good time. Plus the pubs were shut all summer...
So I urge you to look at what holiday entitlement employees have left until the end of the leave year and consider what holiday you could allow all employees to take before the end of the year and what holiday you will allow employees to carry over.
Holiday is a great way to ensure your teams get a good work-life balance and maintain good mental health. Enhancing your holiday benefit is a great way of reinforcing that you care about employee well-being. Most organisations in the UK offer 25 days holiday as opposed to the statutory 20 and 54% of employers offer an increase in annual leave entitlement linked to long service.
While you're here, I also wanted to touch on the issues we have seen crop up with employees taking holiday abroad and then having to self-isolate for 14 days.
The best way you can deal with this is to be ahead of the game. When an employee books holiday, ask them if they are going abroad so that you can discuss with them what they need to do and the arrangements for their self-isolation.
If your employee is able to work from home, you could ask them to take their equipment home with them before their holiday so there is no requirement to come to the workplace after their holiday.
Alternatively, and if your employee is not able to work from home, you could make them aware that they will have to take the 14 day self-isolation period as unpaid leave.
You would not be able to pay Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) unless the employee has developed symptoms of COVID.
Whatever you decide, it's important to be transparent with the employee before the holiday is taken. You should also implement a process for employees to follow if the country they travel to is put on the isolation list whilst they are there.
Be wary of disciplinary action for employees who risk travelling abroad. You have no jurisdiction around where employees spend their holiday and disciplinary action for exercising a statutory right to take holiday would most certainly be considered unfair.
If you have any questions about annual leave, how it interacts with furlough or anything else, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org