Holiday absence management might present new or increased challenges this year, and HR would be wise to lead on the front foot in this area. Due to changes in Government legislation around holiday carryover, businesses may have more holiday owing to employees than normal, so HR and line managers will need to be very organised about how this annual leave is spread out to avoid being short staffed.
Businesses also need to be mindful of how their approach to absence requests is perceived – any sense of unfairness or lack of empathy may well be magnified for employees who are already at the end of their tether after a very stressful 12 months. And this doesn’t just apply to new requests being made, but also when employees need flexibility in shifting holidays around due to circumstances outside their control.
Changes to carryover
Last year, the UK Government decided to make changes to how much leave can be carried over, and for how long. You can find more information about this at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/rules-on-carrying-over-annual-leave-to-be-relaxed-to-support-key-industries-during-covid-19
A good absence management system like Cezanne HR helps administer carryover changes, and makes it easy for employees to submit holiday requests and for managers to quickly approve or deny them as appropriate. With increased absence requests, HR software is an invaluable time saver.
Balancing absence requests from different staff members and being fair is going to be critical in 2021. HR will need to work with line managers in understanding people management and how different employees experienced the last year – some people may have been absent from work a lot due to sickness, bereavement, or furlough, and others may have worked extra hours and taken very minimal holiday. HR should help line managers navigate any conflicting absence requests in this very sensitive environment, to make sure all staff members are supported and able to take time out as needed.
The first step in maintaining fairness with absence requests is having absence data readily available. Cezanne HR makes it simple for HR to set up and run absence reports, and to share them with the business when required. So, if a dispute were to arise between two employees wanting leave at the same time, Cezanne HR’s Absence module would be able to provide information relating to holiday taken and remaining that might help to resolve that conflict. Absence calendars in Cezanne HR also make it easy to see team absences at a glance, so it’s quick and straightforward to compare holiday dates within different teams using calendar filters.
Be mindful of next winter
Professor Chris Whitty has already been quoted as saying that the UK may need some level of COVID-19 restrictions again next winter. And with so much uncertainty around the virus, and when restrictions will be lifted and possibly reimposed, businesses need to be mindful that employees may have a small window in which to enjoy a proper holiday this year. Employees who have optimistically booked holidays already may also need understanding if they have to push those plans back to comply with COVID-19 restrictions.
HR and line managers can take a proactive approach to promote employee engagement and wellbeing by encouraging employees to request holiday, and to do everything in their power to approve it. Businesses will need to be fair, as mentioned above, but part of being fair might be a willingness on the part of an employer to accept lower productivity (if the business has the capacity to absorb that) over peak holiday time in order to give as many people a break as possible.
Rewarding overtime with TOIL
If your organisation already offers time off in lieu (TOIL), is it easy to administer? And if TOIL isn’t currently part of your culture, is it something your business leaders could consider (even if just temporarily) to acknowledge employees who have gone above and beyond in putting in the long hours over the last year?
Cezanne HR takes the paperwork and fuss out of TOIL management. Employees can easily log TOIL in the system, and then request the time back when needed. To help employees avoid losing holiday that expires, Cezanne HR also ensures that when an employee asks for time off, that absence is withdrawn from the allocation (TOIL or annual leave) due to expire the soonest.
To read more about how Cezanne HR can help with absence management, see How to improve holiday management: essential absence management features for every HR system