Employment & Health and Safety, Insights

Managing the Holidays

The festive season is here again and with it comes the task of managing public holidays, Christmas closedowns and annual leave. We give you a brief guide to managing the holidays for your business this year.

First off, the public holidays for this year’s Christmas period will all be ‘Mondayised’, meaning that they fall on a Saturday or Sunday and so will be observed the following business day. That is unless an employee would “otherwise work” on the Saturday or Sunday, in which case the holiday is observed on that day and the employee receives time-and-a-half pay and a day in lieu.

This year, for employees that work weekdays:

  • Christmas Day (Saturday 25 December) will be observed on Monday 27 December 2021
  • Boxing Day (Sunday 26 December) will be observed on Tuesday 28 December 2021
  • New Year’s Day (Saturday 1 January) will be observed on Monday 3 January 2022
  • Sunday 2 January will be observed on Tuesday 4 January 2022

Employers and employees can agree to transfer a public holiday to another day, following the specific requirements of the Holidays Act.

Annual leave is a trickier business. Most businesses will close down over the Christmas period, and as long as the closedown is “customary” for a business (which means it must be done at a similar time and for a similar length each year), employers can require employees to take annual leave over this period. They just have to give employees at least 14 days’ notice of the closedown, informing them that they will be required to take annual leave during this time.

There are some potential complications to this. Firstly, if an employee does not have enough annual leave to cover the entire closedown period, they can agree with their employer to take annual leave in advance. Alternatively, the employee may decide to take unpaid leave for the remainder of the closedown period.

If an employee is not entitled to annual leave, the Holidays Act 2003 stipulates that they be paid 8% of their gross earnings from the start of their employment to the beginning of the closedown period, and that the anniversary of their annual leave then moves to the start date of the closedown. The employer and employee may then agree that the employee takes either unpaid leave or annual leave in advance to cover the closedown.

They don’t call it the silly season for nothing, and managing all the employment requirements of the holiday period can easily drive you round the bend. If you would like any advise or assistance in managing the holiday period for your business, please get in touch.