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How to manage the 2021 Christmas holiday period

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year…and depending on government guidance, Christmas really could be on in the UK this year. But while the festivities themselves have a chance of being back to normal, there could be disruption in the workforce with Yuletide staff holidays.

Already, Britons aren’t good at taking time off – with around a third of working adults habitually not using their full entitlement each year. Even during the Christmas period itself, Glassdoor research found the average employee only took around 62% of what they were entitled to. 

But the factor that threatens to magnify this further this year is the confusion that furlough and working from home guidelines has brought to work/life balance and how holiday entitlement for any carryover particularly, can be easily calculated by HR teams.

The annual rush to book holiday before New Year (a clamour which itself creates clashes), is being compounded by the effects of furlough, which, as per government guidelines, some companies allowed staff to carry over up to four weeks’ holiday to some point in the future, limited to two years. But it’s highly likely staff previously on furlough – but now back at work – might feel under pressure to ‘make-up’ for the many months they were ‘off’ (and being paid), even though this time away was not technically a holiday (in fact many people found it difficult being off work for so long). And carrying over holiday anyway might also run counter to existing company policies, which sometimes dictate that staff use a certain percent of their accrued holiday by a certain date (usually year-end). In short, this past couple of years has turned holiday into something of a complicated mess. And all the things that normally complicate it – holidays being chopped and changed; holiday days being bought and sold, businesses having to plan for minimal skeleton staff levels, and being aware of the health and wellbeing of staff – still have to be accounted for and managed.

It’s the word ‘manage’ that really is key now. Even working out what holiday pay is has been thrown a curve-ball (as bonuses and bonus pay can now be linked to pay and holiday pay in certain instances, but working hours have fallen for most employees this year). Not being clear on this might now have a bearing on whether people feel it’s ‘worth’ taking time off this Christmas. Now, working out people’s accrued holiday needs precision rather than guesswork.

The only way of managing such vastly more Christmas induced holiday conundrums is by proper holiday management technology that not only makes it easier for staff to book holiday (ease of booking does translate to people making use of their entitlement), but which provides managers with assurances they’re meeting all the ever-changing regulatory and legislative updates.

These past few years have been like nothing before it. Where employees are reporting rising levels of mental health issues, it’s never been more important they take what’s due to them this festive period. It could well be that under-pressure staff who work flat-out until Christmas could also actually be sick during the first few days of their official Xmas break, so again, leave management software will be needed to account for this, and reallocate remaining days. 

Appogee Leave is our easy-to-use holiday & sickness management software which gives staff a visual indication of precisely how much holiday they have, and how they can request sick days, so that they can plan their relaxation time better. This is the only way they can truly forget about work when they’re off, and prevent disengagement from feeling they’ve ‘lost’ holiday. But our software also gives managers the assurances they need that staff are taking the time off that they deserve, via easy to use dashboards, CSV exports and filtered leave management reporting. It also gives them the ability to cross-reference against absenteeism data – and all safe in the knowledge they are also complying with current law. If an employment profile is configured so that employees are allowed to exceed their allowance, we can also configure ‘Carry Over Debt’ on the employment profile (if you need help with this check out our knowledge base)

Christmas isn’t always a happy time for many, and this Christmas time could still be a challenging one for many still not able to see their families due to illness. But the least staff should be given this Christmas time, is the feeling that they deserve time off, can see what they’re owed, and have the ability to easily take it. That’s the best present any employer could give this festive time.

To help you easily manage your employees’ holiday entitlements, get started today with Appogee Leave. Start your 14 day free trial or book a demo with a member of our team.