Making sure it’s a Merry Christmas

Christmas holidays – planning & managing absence

Christmas is a time of celebration for many and employers can help the festivities by planning ahead especially for holiday requests and/or managing absences.

Christmas and the workplace

The Christmas season has a big impact on most businesses and employees in the UK. It’s also a time when there is will be extra demand for products, services and sales in some businesses whilst others may experience a quiet period or may shut completely for Christmas.

Many employees will doubtless request time off for family time, holidays or attend religious services. Employees working over the Christmas period may experience different working patterns, a change in the nature of their workload or face difficulties getting to and from work. It’s also a period when some industries might need extra support and will take on seasonal workers.

Christmas bank holidays

This year the 25 December 2015 falls on a Friday which is a Bank Holiday in the UK. Boxing Day (26 December 2015) falls on a Saturday which means Monday 28 December 2015 is a Bank Holiday. There is no right to have either day away from work or taken as paid time off unless terms of the employment contract allow otherwise. Paid public holidays can be counted as part of statutory annual leave.

There is no legal right to paid leave for public holidays. Any right to paid time off for these holidays depends on the terms of a worker’s contract. Paid public holidays can be counted as part of the statutory 5.6 weeks of holiday.=<a

Annual leave over the Christmas period

An organisation’s annual leave policy should give guidance on how to book time off. However, employers may wish to look at being a little more flexible when allowing employees leave during this period.

Employees should remember however that this may not always be possible as it could be one of the busiest times of the year for the organisation. The key is for both parties to try and come to an agreement and to plan as early as possible while being fair and consistent with all staff.

Some employers may need to restrict annual leave over the Christmas period which is completely acceptable however this must be stated in the contract of employment, implied from custom or practice, or incorporated into individual contracts from a collective agreement.

Restricting leave can take many forms, but some of the most common are:

  • shutting down for certain periods while workers have to use their annual leave entitlement
  • nominating particular dates as days of closure when workers are expected to take annual leave
  • determining the maximum amounts of leave that can be taken on any one occasion and also the periods when leave may be taken
  • determining the number of workers who can be off at any one time.

Sickness absence during the Christmas season

An organisation’s usual sickness policy will apply during this time. This policy should be managed and operated fairly and consistently for all staff. Levels of attendance should be monitored during this period in accordance with the associated policy. Any unauthorised absence or patterns in absence (eg high levels of sickness or late attendance) could result in formal proceedings.

Where an employee is sick or absent from work on a day they requested off but were refused or the day after a work Christmas party, normal sickness policies and procedures would apply.

Updating your holiday policy or contract or advice

If you find your contracts or holiday policy need updating or redrafting or you want some specific advice about a situation do call us. Our number is 01453 548070. Our last working day is 18 December 2015 beyond our usual 24/7 emergency service for our retained clients.

Have a wonderful holiday.

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