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Holidays & Unauthorised Absence at Christmas

Christmas is seen as a time to celebrate but for many employers it is a busy time of year so planning ahead for the holiday requests and managing absences can become a big headache.

Christmas bank holidays

This year, Christmas Day (25 December 2015) falls on a Friday which is a Bank Holiday in the UK. Boxing Day (26 December 2015) falls on a Saturday which means Monday 28 December 2015 is a Bank Holiday. There is no right to have either day away from work or taken as paid time off unless terms of the employment contract allow otherwise. Paid public holidays can be counted as part of statutory annual leave.

There is no legal right to paid leave for public holidays. Any right to paid time off for these holidays depends on the terms of a worker's contract. Paid public holidays can be counted as part of the statutory 5.6 weeks of holiday.

Annual leave over the Christmas period

Your businesses annual leave policy will give you the how to on booking time off but employers do become alittle more flexible during the festive period allowing employees leave during this time. This is not always a guarantee for the key is to try and come to agreement and plan the holiday requests as early as possible whilst being fair and consistent to all staff within your business.

Some employers due to the nature of the business during the Christmas period do need to restrict annual leave. If this is a required within your business this must be stated in the contract of employment to your employees, implied from custom or practice, or incorporated into individual contracts from a collective agreement. This can take many forms, but some of the most common are:

  • shutting down for certain periods while workers have to use their annual leave entitlement
  • nominating particular dates as days of closure when workers are expected to take annual leave
  • determining the maximum amounts of leave that can be taken on any one occasion and also the periods when leave may be taken
  • Determining the number of workers who can be off at any one time.

Sickness absence during Christmas

An businesses normal sickness policy will apply during this time. The sickness policy will need to managed and implemented fairly and consistently for all staff. Staff levels of attendance should be monitored in accordance to the business requirements during Christmas. Any unauthorised absence or strange patterns of absence can result in formal procedures.  (eg: high levels of sickness or late attendance.

The day after a businesses Christmas party is a usual lateness or absent, normal sickness and procedures would apply on this occasion too.

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