How do I deal with the headache of too many holiday requests?

Know the HR ‘rules’ when it comes to requests for time off 

Is your desk strewn with holiday requests? It’s that time of year when it seems that everyone wants to take time off, with employees facing long school holidays, weddings, family getaways or festivals. But you still have a business to run, so managing who is off and when is vitally important.
The rules
There are a lot of misconceptions about holidays – from how much entitlement an employee has, through to when they can take their holiday. These are some of the top queries we get asked at The HR Dept.
We always advise that the best way to manage the process is to have a policy that sets out your rules clearly. You should also consider the following: Can you allow a ‘first-come, first-served’ approach? Or are there team members who you simply cannot allow off at the same time?
Pencilling it in
Fortunately, it is your choice. You can refuse requests, so make sure staff know not to book tickets until you have agreed to the time off. And after having agreed a holiday, how much should they be paid?
This is easy enough to work out if they simply have a standard weekly wage. But for those who work variable hours, do regular overtime or have commission, it is a different matter altogether. Recent court cases have come down heavily on the side of the employee, stating that that commission and overtime must be included.
The importance of the policy
It has been in the news this week that unscrupulous holiday makers have been making insurance claims against hotels, claiming they had tummy bugs which ruined their holiday. The hotels are fighting back, but could the same people claim that they want their holiday entitlement again, as they were too poorly to enjoy it? This is one area you really need to speak to The HR Dept about. It is important to make sure your policy protects you in this situation!
The legal minimum
Holiday entitlement is covered by health and safety legislation, as it is deemed important that staff have a break from work so they can reclaim holiday in certain circumstances.
The statutory amount is 5.6 weeks, including bank holidays. And unless the employee has been absent long term, this must be taken and cannot be carried over. Therefore, keeping track of each person’s holiday and ensuring they take it, is another time-consuming management responsibility.
The HR Dept Toolkit
But we have the answer!
If you want to get rid of all that paper on your desk, have a look at our HR Dept Toolkit. It’s a clever software package that manages holiday requests simply and effectively. Never again would you hear the question “How much holiday have I got left?” Bliss!

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Ian heads up the HR Dept Edinburgh & the Lothians team. The HR Dept specialises in helping SMEs with everything to with employment, through a local and personal service delivering practical and pragmatic advice and support. With nearly 30 years HR experience, Ian has a wealth of experience in helping businesses to ensure success through their people, be legally compliant and handle tricky people issues. As a business owner himself, Ian understands the challenges that come with running and growing a business. He is known for his ability to explain complex concepts simply and to make learning fun and enjoyable.