Olympic fever and the inevitable holiday requests

Olympic fever has reached us with the recent conclusion of the ticket applications for 2012. Employers are likely to face many staff requesting annual leave to attend the games in 2012. The question is how can employers deal with the numerous and perhaps multiple requests from staff for time off to attend? This applies particularly to SMEs which often require a certain level of staff in the office to answer phones or to cover important tasks undertaken by other colleagues in the company.

The first step is to check your employment contracts. A gold medal (no pun intended!) employment contract will make provisions for an employer to decide when holiday can be taken and allow for refusal of requests where there is a business need for an employee to be at work on a particular date. Refusals given must be carefully considered and reasons for refusal given to the employee. Where you have multiple requests – if you give time off to some employees but not others, this should not be on any discriminatory grounds and the fairest option is to give holiday requests on a ‘first come first served’ basis or by a random method (picking names out of a hat for example) which is agreed up front with your employees.

Perhaps your employment contracts are more a bronze medal level and do not specify about holidays. In this case, there is still an opportunity to notify employees and specify when employees can and cannot take leave (in accordance with the Working Time Regulations 1998). Notification must be in writing and specify the exact dates when an employee may not be permitted to take holiday.

Lawspeed advises that in order to achieve a podium position when managing annual leave of your employees during the Olympic games, preparation is key. You should be discussing such matters with your employees sooner rather than later and if you suspect there may be issues, make it clear that there will not be an automatic right to leave during the games and specify how you will go about selecting who gets particular dates off where there are multiple requests. You may also choose to set a time limit when holiday requests must be received so you can manage the process well in advance.

As for runners up – call us on 01273 236 236 to help you get back on track!

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