How to handle holiday requests with back to back Bank Holidays!
Written by Simon Morgan, The HR Dept South East London and North Kent.
Did you know an employee working Mondays to Fridays can have 18 consecutive days off by only booking 9 working days holiday over the Easter and May Bank Holiday period this year?
It could prove popular!
What can employers do to minimise internal strife amongst staff and possible disruption to customers over this period?
- Plan ahead. Remind employees to book their holidays in advance. Some employers already ask staff to give their holiday requests for the full year ahead or require several months’ notice.
- Allocate holidays on a first come first served basis. You want employees to know that they should book early to ensure they have the time off they want! First come first served is the fairest system. Unless separate arrangements exist, employees must give notice equal to twice the length of holiday they wish to take. An employer doesn’t have to agree – it can refuse the request by serving counter-notice equivalent to the length of holiday requested. 
- A staggered schedule. To combat closing early or offering a reduced level of service over the holidays you may be able to agree to revise working hours to provide better cover. It’s also handy if you can call upon temporary or casual workers if needed to bolster necessary staffing levels.
- Compulsory holiday. For some industries the holiday periods are their busiest times, so they need to have a full complement of staff. You can specify periods when holidays will not be allowed at all, as long as you give suitable notice.
- Holiday carry-over. What if someone has been unable or unwilling to take their holiday entitlement during the holiday year? Normally holiday entitlement set out in the Working Time Directive cannot be carried over to the next holiday year and an employer cannot pay in lieu of untaken holiday unless the contract is finishing. So, notwithstanding the desire of many staff to take their holidays – especially when they can have a long break as this year – the principle remains: Use it or Lose it!
- Keep holiday records. Handling holiday requests can be a nightmare with e mails, texts, bits of paper going from employee to manager and back again. Consider using an automated system for booking and approving holiday requests! The HR Dept has a system called HR Dept Toolkit. It takes the headache out of holiday planning!
For more information on this or any HR issue contact Simon Morgan, Director, The HR Dept (South East London & North Kent). firstname.lastname@example.org. 0345 634 9154
 Working Time Regulations 1998
 Working Time Directive 2003/88/EC