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4 June, 2024
How to Manage Your Business During School Holidays

A Guide for Employers

As the temperature rises, so do the holiday requests from your employees. Managing a business during school holidays can be challenging, especially when you can't grant all leave requests without risking serious understaffing. With strategic planning and a clear understanding of legal requirements, you can navigate this period effectively. This article provides practical tips on managing your business during school holidays, focusing on drafting in temporary staff to cover absences and addressing legal considerations.

Planning Ahead: The Key to Success

Forecasting Demand: Understanding your business's seasonal patterns is crucial. Analyse past data to predict busy periods and potential staffing shortages. This helps you determine how many temporary staff you need and in which roles.

Early Communication with Staff: Inform your permanent staff about the upcoming holiday period well in advance. Encourage them to submit their holiday requests early. This allows you to identify gaps in the schedule and plan accordingly.

Flexible Working Arrangements: Offering flexible working arrangements can help retain your regular staff during school holidays. Consider options such as job-sharing, flexible hours, or remote working where possible.

Getting Holiday Leave Right

Legal Considerations: According to the Working Time Regulations 1998, employers have the right to refuse an employee’s holiday request. However, it’s essential to handle this process carefully. Firstly, while you can refuse holiday requests, you shouldn’t do it without a valid reason. If an employee has followed the correct procedure, has enough leave left, and the business is sufficiently staffed, it’s good practice to grant their holiday request—or explain why you’re unable to do so. Secondly, ensure that holiday leave is managed openly, fairly, and in line with employment law. Follow the rules, and you’ll avoid putting your business at risk of legal repercussions.

Establish Clear Policies: Put annual leave policies in place, such as limiting the number of people who can book annual leave at any one time or during periods of increased demand. A first-come, first-served system can be effective, making it clear why some requests can't be granted if others have already been approved.

Include Annual Leave in Employee Contracts: Make sure staff know where they stand before the holiday season arrives. Contracts should include:

  • How much holiday allowance staff get
  • Whether you pay staff extra for working certain days
  • How staff can book time off
  • How much notice you require
  • What days staff need to reserve holiday for
  • Whether they can carry over leave

If you don’t have holiday policies in place, we can help you write employee contracts and annual leave policies to protect your business.

Don’t Give Anyone Priority: Treating some workers’ requests as more important than others can lead to discrimination claims. Prioritising holidays based on employees’ beliefs or family status could result in accusations of unfair treatment. Treat all holiday requests equally to avoid legal issues.

Recruiting Temporary Staff

Start Early: Begin the recruitment process for temporary staff as early as possible. This gives you access to a larger pool of candidates and more time for training if needed. Mpeople Recruitment keep a bank of highly experienced contact centre staff, reference checked, ready to go and on our payroll already. Chances are they will be able to step in and help with very little training.

Clear Job Descriptions: Create clear and detailed job descriptions. Outline the specific tasks, required skills, and the duration of employment. This ensures you attract candidates who are well-suited to the role and reduces the risk of misunderstandings.If you don't have these already, we can help.

Interview and Selection Process: Conduct thorough interviews to assess the suitability of temporary staff. Check references and, if necessary, conduct background checks. This step is crucial to ensure you hire reliable and competent individuals.

Training and Integration

Comprehensive Training: Provide comprehensive training to your temporary staff. This includes not only job-specific training but also an overview of your company’s policies and culture. Well-trained staff are more likely to perform efficiently and align with your company’s standards.

Mentorship and Support: Assign a mentor or a support person to each temporary staff member. This helps them integrate quickly into your team and provides a point of contact for any questions or issues that may arise.

Enhancing Employee Morale

Recognise and Reward: Recognise the hard work of both your permanent and temporary staff. This could be through verbal appreciation, small rewards, or staff events. A motivated workforce is more productive and provides better service.

Open Communication: Maintain open lines of communication with your staff. Encourage them to voice any concerns or suggestions. This helps create a positive working environment and can provide valuable insights into improving your operations.

Balanced Workload: Avoid overburdening your staff during school holidays. Ensure that workloads are balanced and manageable to prevent burnout and maintain high levels of job satisfaction.

Offer Other Benefits

Even if you can't grant all holiday requests, there are other ways to keep staff management running smoothly through the summer months. Consider offering flexible working hours, staff benefits, reward and recognition programs, or summer social events. These gestures can boost employee morale and productivity.

Streamlining Saves Time

Using tools like BrightHR software makes managing annual leave easier. Employees can use it to make holiday requests, and you can approve or refuse them in seconds, even from your phone. Streamlining the holiday request process saves everyone time, allowing staff to focus on their job roles while you concentrate on running your business effectively.

 

Managing a business during school holidays requires proactive planning, effective recruitment, and adherence to legal requirements. By forecasting demand, hiring and training temporary staff, and maintaining a supportive work environment, you can navigate the challenges of the holiday period with ease. Remember to stay compliant with employment laws to protect your business and your employees. With the right strategies in place, your business can continue to thrive, even when the school bell rings.

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By: Lisa Emsley-Jones