New Holiday Headaches for Employers

The one thing that every one of us can agree on, I’m sure, is that we would like a holiday.  Preferably to somewhere warm and sunny.   However, this year is likely to present a whole new host of holiday challenges for employers.


Overseas Travel

 At the time of writing, UK citizens are banned from all but essential travel abroad.  When that ban is lifted, it is likely we will be required to self-isolate on arrival back in the UK.

I expect that, when restrictions are eased, there will be a rush of people looking to holiday abroad.  This will be on top of all those holidays that have been postponed from last year.  The requirement to self-isolate could prove to be a significant issue for those that cannot work from home.

When it comes to agreeing holiday requests, you need to find out if they plan to travel abroad and if so, when and where they are going.   Are they allowing a period for self-isolation after they return?  Are they just hoping they won’t need to?  If there is one thing we have learnt from this pandemic it is to plan for the worst.  Assuming they must self-isolate, what do you need to have in place?

If this will affect you, adjust your holiday booking processes now to find out this essential information.


Holiday carry over

You may have agreed to your employees carrying over additional leave they were not able to take last year due to COVID.  Some employees may have up to 20 additional days, which must be used within 2 years.  You cannot pay them for any holiday they have not used unless they are leaving your employment.

If you have allowed your employees to carry over a substantial amount of holiday, think carefully about how you want them to take this.  If you let the situation drift you could be faced with a larger than normal backlog of holidays and/or a big bill when someone leaves your employment.

You can require employees to take leave when you tell them to, provided you give twice as much notice as the amount of leave you require them to take.  If they are on furlough at the time, you must top their pay up to 100% of salary.


Using Up Holiday Entitlement

The Government are actively discouraging people from booking summer holidays abroad.  Your sunseekers may be banking on the situation changing later in the year.

As we approach the end of any holiday year, there is often a panic to use up holiday entitlement. If people delay taking their main holidays to go abroad, this headache could be worse than ever.  Set yourself some targets throughout the year as to how much holiday you expect people to take and by when.

As with all annual leave, it is up to you to agree when they take it.  You can say “no”.  You may need to if you see there is going to be an overlap of key employees due to potential isolation issues. No one likes their holiday request being turned down, particularly after the difficult year we have all had.   Make it clear to your employees that the likelihood of isolation is something you have to take into account.  They should therefore make their requests early and not book anything before their holiday request has been approved.


This year it is not just your employees that need to plan for their holidays.  Take the time now to put new processes in place and make your employees aware of the particular difficulties you face. If you need any support with this, please contact me.

Categories HR planning, Uncategorized