Donna was recently asked to comment on Viking’s survey about annual leave over Christmas. See a snippet of what she had to say by clicking here
Her full article can be seen below:
Planning annual leave for the festive season will vary depending on the sector in which the business operates. Retailers are unlikely to allow staff to take leave from Mid-November – Mid-January to ensure that they have sufficient cover for the Pre-Christmas period and January sales. This is industry standard and although it can be frustrating for staff, it is expected within the sector.
Hospitals, police, paramedics, prisons and other 24/7 operations need to ensure that they have the right staff in place to deal with the expected and the unexpected at all times and therefore scheduling and rosters over the festive season will be clearly laid out in policies and procedures and communicated a long way in advance to enable people to plan for their time off.
However, many businesses do allow staff to take annual leave during the festive period. Many companies will have decided on their Christmas closure dates and whether or not employees get the days in addition to their annual leave or from their normal entitlement. Not everyone can take time off at once if the business needs to continue to operate, however, it may be possible to function with a skeleton team to cover essential operations.
With the increase in workers of different religions, some businesses will allow those of the Christian faith to take time off at Christmas and their non-Christian colleagues provide the cover. This is usually a reciprocal arrangement for Jewish New Year or Eid for example. This is usually an unofficial practise rather than policy, but does allow staff to get time off when they need it.
Taking a break is important to the health and wellbeing of all staff; but when the time is taken will depend on the policies, practices and needs of the business. Care must be taken at all times to ensure that the policies and practices within the business do not expose it to the risk of a discrimination claim. Consistency, clarity and fairness must be balanced with the needs of the business and the needs of the employees and this is a difficult tightrope to walk.