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We all need a holiday - managing employees' annual leave

This blog post will explore how businesses can manage annual leave requests to promote employee wellbeing and prevent burnout.

What is annual leave?

Annual leave, known legally as statutory leave entitlement, is the number of days off work that employees are entitled to.

In the UK, almost all workers are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks paid holiday a year which is the equivalent of 28 days. An employer can choose to include bank holidays as part of statutory annual leave.

If an employee is working part-time, they are also entitled to at least 5.6 weeks paid holiday, but this will amount to fewer than 28 days.

The importance of leave

Taking annual leave is important for the health and wellbeing of staff and is something that employers should make a priority. Employees that don’t take regular breaks can end up becoming stressed and burnt out, especially if they are taking on extra work covering absences and staff shortages.

Employers need to be mindful that the pandemic has had a big impact on people’s mental wellbeing and taking time off has never been more vital. Whilst people can find asking for time off for mental health reasons difficult, having a policy that encourages annual leave to be taken across the year can be a way to avoid issues developing in the first place.

Tips to manage time off requests

Managing leave can be tricky, especially if members of your team want to take similar dates off. With many often booking annual leave alongside bank holiday date, you may want to consider having a system in place to ensure that there is clarity between team members. This could include: understanding whether those who are off work are contactable in case of emergency, making sure there is a smooth handover for those covering the work of those taking leave, and making sure that anyone picking up extra tasks has a point of contact should questions arise.

Many annual leave requests are still being processed manually. This makes managing the annual leave process time consuming and difficult to keep track of who has booked what time off. Investing in an absence management system which also manages holiday leave requests can be really valuable. Not only does it make the whole process of requesting and getting leave signed off easier and quicker, it means managers will be able to see if someone hasn’t taken any leave.

A lack of time off can lead to burnout, exhaustion and poor mental and physical health. It is, therefore, vital that employees take their leave allowance, especially if the workplace adopts a ‘use it, or lose it’ policy, where holiday entitlement is not carried over into the following year. One way for employers to actively encourage people to take their full leave entitlement is to issue regular email reminders across the business throughout the year. Managers should also monitor their teams and keep an eye on people who may not be taking regular breaks.

This blog post has explored the importance of annual leave for employees and businesses alike. Looking after workers’ health and wellbeing is essential and encouraging annual leave, which people are entitled to, is a quick win. Plus it can make people feel valued, engaged and motivated.

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