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Fair Bank Holidays for Part-Time Employees

Not all part-time employees are created equal. In fact, even two employees that work the exact same number of hours and days can make it difficult to give them both a fair holiday allowance. In this article, we explore the potential pitfalls around this, and illustrate the best way to balance bank holidays for part-time employees.

Imagine a company with three employees: one full-time (Fred) and two part-time (Mary and Tony). Each employee is entitled to 20 days holiday per year if they work full time – this is their Full Time Entitlement. In addition to those 20, they also get bank holidays, Christmas, Easter, etc. We refer to these as public holidays and there are 8 of them in England and Wales each year.

Fred works full-time, 5 days a week, so gets his full entitlement of 20 days holiday. He also gets all 8 public holidays – in The Holiday Tracker, we show these on his calendar in light grey:

So essentially, Fred gets 28 days holiday, but 8 of the days are fixed dates.

Next, we have Mary and Tony. Both work four days a week, but Mary works Mon-Thu, and Tony works Tue-Fri. Because they work 80% of a normal week, they both get 80% of their Full Time Entitlement, which gives them 16 days holiday instead of 20.

However, Because Mary works on a Monday, and most of the public holidays fall on a Monday, she also scores for 7 of the 8 public holidays:

So essentially, Mary gets 23 days holiday (16 + 7), but 7 of the days are fixed dates.

Because Tony doesn’t work a Monday, he misses out on a lot of those extra public holidays, and only gets 4 of the 8 public holidays:

So, Tony gets 20 days holiday (16 + 4), but 4 of the days are fixed dates.

This means Tony gets 3 days less holiday than Mary.  Unfair.

To balance this fairness, you can give part-time employees a pro-rata of the public holidays and then make them use their holidays to cover the public holidays they should be working.  80% of 8 is 6.5 (rounded up to the nearest half-day), so we add that to the 16 days Mary and Tony get, giving them 22.5 days.

This is the key point here.  Now, Tony and Mary BOTH get 22.5 days holiday.  Fair.

Now because there are 7 public holidays that fall on days that Mary usually works, we take 7 days off her entitlement leaving her with 15.5.

There are 4 public holidays that fall on days that Tony usually works, so we take them off his entitlement, leaving him with 18.5.

But remember, they BOTH get 22.5 days holiday, it’s just that 7 of Mary’s holidays are fixed dates, while only 4 of Tony’s are fixed.  It’s no different to the fact that Fred (who works full-time) gets 28 days holiday, but 8 of those are fixed.

If you use The Holiday Tracker to manage your employees’ annual leave, then each employee’s entitlement is already calculated for you.  Even if they work part-time, start working in the middle of a calendar year and switch from working 3 days, to 4 days and back to 3 days again.  No matter how complicated an employee gets, the correct entitlement is calculated automatically.  Sign up for a 7-day free trial, or book a demo.

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Interested in simplifying your holiday process, saving time and hassle at all levels of the business, and reducing your sickness absence to boot? Read on to find out why it could be worth ditching Excel to manage your annual leave. Continue Reading »

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Taking time off from work should be a straight forward affair, but as with most things HR-related, it rarely is! Compiling a fair and consistent holiday policy can be a delicate balancing act. The intricacies will be dramatically different from one business to the next, but ultimately should be fair to both employee and employer. Let us walk you through a few things you should consider when documenting your holiday policy.

Annual Leave Entitlement

First thing’s first: how much leave are your employees entitled to? Statutory entitlement in the UK is 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday per year. For a standard, 5 day week, this equates to 28 days, and you can include bank holidays in this. However, there’s nothing to stop you giving more. It’s a great perk that can help you when hiring, and well rested employees are productive employees.

Where things get tricky is calculating entitlement for part-time employees, or employees who start or leave halfway through a year. What about Davy Davison who started mid-May working 3 days a week, then switched to 4 days a week in June and handed in his notice at the end of August? What should he be entitled to?

The Holiday Tracker takes care of all this mental arithmetic for you, and we’ve also created a free online calculator you can use if you’re not ready to take the plunge yet. However you choose to calculate it, one key thing to remember: whatever figure you’re left with, you can round that figure up, but you can’t round down!

What happens at the end of the year if your employees haven’t used all of their entitlement? Do they lose those days, or do you allow them to carry holidays over into the next year? If you do, is there a limit on the number of days (or hours) they can carry-over? Do they have to use those carried-over days by a certain date?  Is that all documented?

A common staff benefit employed by businesses is to reward long-service by granting additional entitlement. For example, after 5 years’ service an employee’s entitlement increases by 1 day. A common mistake companies make here is not being explicit as to when the award is granted. For example, if my start date was 13/2/2010, do I receive my extra day on 1/1/2015, 13/2/2015 or 1/1/2016? If it’s the middle option, does that then get calculated pro-rata for 2015?

Who Gets Priority

Inevitably there are times of the year where demand for time off becomes competitive: Christmas and school holidays being the main contenders. There’s a good chance your holiday policy defaults to a “first-come first served” approach, but is this the fairest?

A common alternative is to implement a rota system for those busy periods. Pull names out of a hat to decide an initial order, then those people in turn get to request any holidays they want during the busy periods. At the end of the year, bump the person at the top of the list to the bottom of the list for next year. Eventually everyone has a chance to choose first.

Some people might be prepared to give up their turn, if they don’t have kids for example. If you allow this, then ensure they choose last, not just skip a turn – it’s not fair for them to let their friend choose first and then they go next.

How Much Notice?

“Can I have the next two weeks off?”

It’s probably a bit short-notice for an employee to be given two weeks off, starting next week, but where do you draw the line? This is definitely something that should be documented in your policy.

The exact rules will vary from business to business and might depend upon the size of your teams. You may also consider different rules for different lengths of holiday and maybe special rules for different times of the year (Christmas?).

A good starting point is to require between 2 and 4 weeks’ notice for 1 or more weeks’ holiday. This gives you plenty of time to arrange cover and any transfer of responsibilities.

Taking a couple of days off usually has less of an impact on your business, so you might require less notice. A simple solution is to double the number of days’ holiday to get the notice required. So, you’d need 4 days’ notice if you were requesting 2 days off.

Transparency

A lot of frustrations are born, and time wasted, because employees don’t always know what how many days holiday they have left or when they can take it. You can improve the fairness and visibility of process by using an absence management tool like The Holiday Tracker. Employees have clear visibility of what their entitlement is, how much they have left and what, exactly, they’ve already used. They can also check to see if others are already off before making their own requests, saving everyone time if there are already too many people off.

If It’s in the Policy, It’s in the Policy

The key to all this is to make sure you think it all through, make the decisions and document it in your holiday policy. Then, most importantly, communicate that policy to your employees.

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