Ashleigh Pinto

Written by:

Ashleigh Pinto

HR Consultant

Don't let annual holidays leave you short staffed

  • September 2017
  • 3 minutes

Ryanair have hit the headlines this week amid plans to cancel 40-50 flights every day for the next six weeks, resulting in a compensation bill of up to £18m. The cause? A ‘mess up’ with planning holidays for pilots.

Ryanair have confirmed that their recent decision to change their holiday year, which currently runs from April to March, to start in January through to December has caused a ‘backlog’ of holiday requests and an increased number of pilots requesting holiday in September/October.

Changing the dates in which a holiday year starts and ends, will always require thorough planning and communication with all employees. Although we do not have insight into how Ryanair managed this process, we can speculate that given the significant repercussions of this decision, that Ryanair bosses did not effectively manage this change.

The Working Time regulations 1998 sets out the contractual minimum requirement for annual leave in the UK, but the responsibility of correctly managing staff holiday falls with the employer. The example Ryanair have set is how a process as simple as holiday bookings not being managed effectively, can have a huge detrimental impact on a company’s brand, reputation, employee engagement and, in this case, its stock price.

Here are some top tips for ensuring that your company manages employee holidays successfully:

Have a policy (and stick to it!)

Having a clear policy which sets out the process for requesting, approving and declining holiday is fundamental is creating consistency, and fairness for all employees. 

Calculate correctly

A full time employee is legally entitled to 5.6 weeks annual leave a year, equating to 28 days (inclusive of bank holidays). It is important that your pro-rata holiday to accommodate new starters and leavers within a holiday year, but you must also consider the pro-rata entitlement for part-time workers too.

Don’t be afraid to say no

Managers often say ‘yes’ to holiday requests automatically, but when a request conflicts with other leave or business needs, managers also need to be prepared to refuse the dates requested. First and foremost, it is crucial that employees are provided with a justification and reasonable notice when declining a holiday request.

Plan ahead

Having ‘check points’ at intervals throughout the holiday year is a good technique in ensuring that employees use all of their holiday entitlement but also regulate their holiday and avoid causing shortages in busy periods

Change strategy

As illustrated by Ryanair, when making any changes to holiday, have a clear communication strategy to all employees well in advance to mitigate future risks.

RSM HR support companies with all aspects of managing their people strategy. We have expertise in creating and implementing policies and procedures; managing organisational changes; supporting managers with tackling disciplinary issues; and dealing with the more serious situations involving employment law. Please contact us for more information

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