Ho Ho Ho Christmas is coming!

Too soon? Perhaps, but it definitely isn’t too soon to start thinking about how you will manage your teams’ Christmas holidays!

Managing Annual Leave at Christmas

Bank Holidays

This year, with Christmas and New Year’s Day falling over the weekends, the associated bank holidays shift to the closest working day; that means that this year’s Christmas bank holidays are:

  • Monday 26th December – Boxing Day
  • Tuesday 27th December – Christmas Day (substitute)
  • Monday 2nd January – New Year’s Day (substitute)

Working Days

Outside of the Bank Holidays, Wednesday 28th through to Friday 30th December are classed as normal working days, so your team will need to book these 3 days out of their usual holiday entitlement in order to take the whole Christmas break off work. Of course, if any of these are normally non-working days for part-time members of your team then they won’t need to book those particular days off, more on that later.

Compulsory shut down

Many businesses take the opportunity to shut down their operations over the Christmas break, and whilst the feasibility of this really depends on the nature of your specific business and the timing of your peaks and troughs, employees may see this as a real perk to be able to have some quality time off over the festive break.

However, there are some considerations to bear in mind here; for example, employees who don’t celebrate Christmas, or those who would prefer to work and take their three days off at a different time of year. The decision as to whether or not to close down really needs weighing up based on the benefit to the business – let’s face it, the days in between Christmas and New Year don’t tend to be very productive; and knowing your team.

Communicating with the team

If you do close down over the festive period and have the expectation that employees will need to save some of their entitlement for this time, it pays to write this into your contracts of employment, employee handbooks and holiday policies to set the expectation from the get-go.

If your documentation doesn’t include any clauses around needing to save holiday days for periods of shut-down, then legally you must give your employees twice the amount of notice than the days you wish them to take, so in this case, you would need to give your employees 6 days’ notice of the requirement to take 3 days’ leave.

Best practice however is to be on the front foot with this and communicate with your teams early on in the year regarding how many days they need to save and which dates they will need to book off over the Christmas period.

Part-Time Workers

Calculating bank holiday entitlement for your part-time or variable-hours team members can be a little mind-boggling. The key here is that no employee in this category should be treated less favourably and they are entitled to the same pro-rata allocation of annual leave, including bank holidays, as their full-time or fixed-hours colleagues.

It can help to have a system in place, such as BreatheHR (which we offer access to as part of our retained packages) to help you calculate and manage holiday entitlement for all members of your team, as well as enable you to manage requests and track that your people are using their entitlement throughout the year.

If you need some help in getting your people documentation up to scratch or would like to talk to us about our retained services and HR system offering, get in touch, we’d love to help!