Holidays, vacations, breaks.

Whatever word you use to describe this particular time of year – when many people take leave for some well-deserved down time from work – if you’re an employer of people here in the UK or have a growing global workforce, there can still be a number of unknowns that go with the territory of holidays.

If you’re just starting out with the deployment of staff abroad there may be a number of questions you’re asking:

  • If we close during a certain period, are staff obliged to take leave for that duration too?
  • If we close on holidays, is holiday pay owed to all employees?
  • Do we have to acknowledge religious holidays of our employees?

All of these questions (and more), of course, depends entirely on you and your company. For example, in the UK there is certainly no law that requires a certain set of holidays be observed by a private-sector company or that employees working a holiday be paid at a premium.

Private sector employees have free reign over the whole concept of holidays. As a company, you can choose which holidays you would like to close or stay open, open late or early, and whether employees will be staffed on those days or not. Furthermore, respecting different religious holidays is an important and necessary consideration.

But when it comes to holiday leave, how does the UK fair compared with the rest of the world?

In a 2015 ACAS survey of 2,000 people, half of UK employees didn’t take all of their annual leave for fear of getting behind with work. Even when away, half of respondents said that they worked while away from the office.

 Further afield, in Australia, Malaysia and the US, employees here are also predicted not take all of their annual paid holiday entitlement.

When it comes to holiday pay, there are a number of differences to be aware of:

  • Paid Holiday– Payment at a regular rate of pay for any holidays in which the company is closed to compensate employees who would lose wages if they would normally be scheduled to work on that day.
  • Holiday Premium Pay– A premium rate, such as one and a half times the regular rate of pay, that a company may offer for hours worked on holidays.
  • Unassigned Paid Floating Holiday– In the same category as vacation time, this is a “free” holiday that employees can choose individually. (A nice incentive for any employees who may celebrate different holidays than those designated by the company.)
  • Holiday Closure– Any days where the company is closed and employees are not expected to report to work. Holiday pay is not assumed unless specified.
  • Early Holiday Closure– The day before or on a holiday where the company formally dismisses employees at an earlier hour than when a shift normally ends.

Getting serious with holidays – make your guidelines clear:

 Formalising holidays is an important part of any process and whether your teams are here or abroad, clearly defining what your holiday policy is (and isn’t) will help with the on-boarding of new teams in your home country and overseas.

This formal document could include:

  1. The days your company is closed and whether the holiday applies to all employees
  2. The days which you will pay premium rate
  3. How to request holiday leave
  4. Information on overtime

Like all employment documents, ensuring that both holiday and payment terms are clearly outlined from the outset will eliminate any surprises for you and your employees, enabling everyone to have a peaceful and restful vacation.

 

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