March 31, 2021

Managing Absence on the Roadmap Out of Lockdown

As we journey out of lockdown, many employees will want to do all the things they’ve missed out on during the last 12 months…

Whether that be a trip to the hair salon, a staycation, or just spending time with family and friends. As lockdown restrictions ease, HR teams will no doubt see a spike in annual leave requests.

As of 29th March the “stay at home” instruction ends. Outdoor gatherings (including in private gardens) of either six people (the ‘Rule of 6‘) or two households are permitted. This makes it possible for friends and families to meet outside. Combined with the start of the Easter school holidays, this will likely to spark an influx of annual leave requests.

Here are some tips to help manage the influx without damaging staff morale!

Communicate the Procedure

Tell your employees that any holiday requests during anticipated peak periods must be made by a specific date. Where applicable, the basis upon which requests will be granted should be clarified. For example, in accordance with the normal holiday procedure, or on a first come first served basis.

Consider Making Exceptions

Where possible, allow more employees than usual to take annual leave at the same time. For example, if only two people per department are usually permitted to take leave at any one time, consider increasing this number.

Flexible Working Patterns

If you can, allow employees to work more flexibly e.g. by working additional hours on certain days to start work later/finish earlier on days or even take a longer lunch break.

Shift Swap

Where employees are working to a set shift arrangement, employers could encourage “shift swapping” with colleagues. That way their rest days fall when events of particular interest are taking place or when they have the opportunity to meet with friends or family.

Managing Leave For Those on Furlough

You can ask your employees on furlough to take some of their leave before they return. To do so, you must give them twice as much notice as the amount of leave you wish them to take.

Be cautious when doing this as you may be left with disgruntled employees if they are unable to take if leave when it suits their own social life.

Altering Holiday Requests

It’s been made clear that the dates set out in the roadmap are subject to change. This may lead to requests to cancel or change leave dates. There is no legal requirement to allow employees to change planned leave dates, however, turning down requests may impact staff morale and lead to unauthorised absence and increased sickness absences. So, try to be as accommodating as possible. Read our guide to absence management for more advice.

Further Advice and Support

For further guidance or any of these topics or for support on any employment law issues, please call 0345 184 4615. We make payroll and HR easy for UK businesses.

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About the author

Gillian Smith

About the author

Gillian Smith

Gill has over 10 years HR generalist experience within the retail and industrial service sectors.Whilst providing HR support and services at the most senior levels Gill’s experience includes mergers and acquisitions, complex TUPE transfers, organisational development, and strategic change management. Gill has experience in the policy development process from design, consulting with directors and employee representatives through to implementation and delivering training workshops on the new polices. Gill currently is an HR policy consultant who services a variety of clients.

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