A 2014 study from Glassdoor found that the average UK employee only uses 77% of their annual leave. Although that percentage seems harmless at first, it can have far-reaching consequences for companies.
Paid leave is required for a reason.
Holidays are integral to supporting the health, professional growth, and long-term performance of workers. When employers don’t actively encourage their staff to take time off, their work may suffer.
There’s a simple solution: a holiday request form motivates employees to use their paid time off while creating a clear process that underpins a strong, consistent business model.
Here’s everything you need to know to create a holiday request form:
Why a Holiday Request Form?
Holiday request forms benefit everyone because they simplify the process for taking time off. First, these benefit forms ensure transparency — employees know the protocol for taking a holiday.
Second, they enable managers to give employees much-deserved breaks from their hard work, supporting a positive and sustainable work environment.
For shift-based work, it’s important to clarify conflicts ahead-of-time and for an employer to have adequate notice of holidays. A holiday form and a clear annual leave policy keeps business in order and confirms that, regardless of days off, a manager won’t be stuck without any workers.
Plus, research shows that anticipating a trip makes people happier than the trip itself. A holiday request form starts that process ahead of time and gives employees extra motivation to get their work done before they leave.
Holiday Request Form Requirements
Ask employees to submit their requests for holidays with ample time for scheduling. Legally workers are required to give notice that’s twice the amount of the actual leave. For example, if an employee wants to take a week off, they need to give at least two weeks notice. To help ease this process, create a holiday request form that includes space for this basic information:
- Requested Dates Off
- Notes or Reason for Holiday (This can be optional.)
- Manager’s Signature of Approval
Consider sharing a digital version of the form that employees submit via email to streamline requests — it saves time and simplifies the process. You can still sign the document with Word or Google Docs.
Holiday Wage Entitlements
Just as employees are entitled to minimum wage, they are also entitled to some national standards when it comes to holidays.
Almost all workers (including casual labor) must receive 5.6 weeks of paid holiday.
The UK government website also clarifies that employees are entitled to a week’s wages for a week of holiday. For shift employees and casual workers, a week’s pay is the average of their earnings of the previous 12 weeks not including any prior time off.
Business owners need to pay these wages at the time their employee takes the holiday.
Employers have the right to deny leave during a busy stretch or a specific time frame that doesn’t work for their business. However, they can’t continually deny holiday requests arbitrarily.
Legally, employers need to give just as much notice to their employees as the amount of time requested. If a worker asked for one week off, you need to deny the request at least a week before the start of the anticipated holiday. When denying a holiday request, give as much of a heads up as you can.
When an employee leaves a company, they’re also entitled to either take the rest of their statutory leave or receive payment for the holidays. Even if you fire an employee, you still need to pay them out for these days.
How To Manage Holiday Requests
Managers and small business owners benefit from being open and generous with their employees when it comes to holidays. When denying time requests, make sure to mention the “why” behind the decision. Maybe too many employees already requested time that week, or there’s a big surge in demand for your business.
It makes a difference for workers to know the cause, creating understanding rather than mounting resentments.
One easy way to facilitate clear communication is to share employee holiday schedules with your entire team. You can use When I Work to streamline the process. The visual calendar reveals holidays to the entire team; employees can check the group’s schedule before they request time off.
Also, set up a “first come, first served” policy for holiday requests.
This approach encourages employees to hammer out the details in advance. If they don’t get their requests in, they have less flexibility about when they can take their holidays based on the company’s shared schedule.
How To Cover Employee Absences
As a business owner, you also need to consider how to cover employee absences. It’s much easier to create a system than trying to juggle it as you go along. With shift-based work, it helps to have stations that you can fill in with any employee. For example, a coffee shop might have a barista station, clean up station, and check-out station. Train employees in every station, so when people go on holiday, it doesn’t affect the business. You can swap one employee for another, just as you do all the time.
If your employees have a more specific set of job responsibilities, ask them to put together a “handover” work report for their manager. This document details what needs to get done during their time away. It should include small, daily tasks and bigger projects alike. Managers can either split these tasks among workers or ask one specific employee to cover these duties for a set period.
Third, if employees are taking an extended holiday, you can always hire a worker on a temporary basis. Students are a great fit for these kinds of roles. Ask current employees if they have any referrals for potential short-term workers and reach out to a local temp agency. Ideally, you want temporary workers with experience in similar roles, so that they can step in with a quickly and without extensive training.
By building and managing a holiday request form creates a clear protocol for employee leave requests.
With a strong process in place, you ensure that you’re complying with holiday entitlements, creating transparency with your staff, and managing a business while employees take time off.