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How to tackle Summer Related Employment Issues | Holiday Request | Blog

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BY Donald MacKinnon
Employment Law & HR
BG Purple

As summer is well on the way it is interesting to have a look at the potential issues that may arise over the next few months.

Firstly, as we have already topped 30 degrees in the UK, you may be in a position where employees are telling you it’s too hot to work. Unfortunately, there is no legal maximum limit; it only needs to be ‘reasonable’. However, the HSE has said that a temperature between 13 and 30 is deemed comfortable depending on the type of work being undertaken. This means that strenuous work would be towards the bottom of this scale and less physical work at the top. If people are saying that the temperature is too hot, it may be deemed a health and safety issue and you may want to consult your health and safety advisor. As with many complaints in the workplace, it is possible that they are a symptom of a deeper problem so further investigation may be required to discover the root cause.

Secondly, what should you do if you have some problems surrounding annual leave during the summer? Even if you have a robust holiday request system you may get issues surrounding unauthorised time off, competing summer holiday requests and those returning late from leave. If someone has had a holiday request turned down and is then absent during that time it can be easy to assume that their absence is non-genuine. It might be.  However, you must ensure that you follow the correct procedure and do some investigation so it does not appear that you are jumping to conclusions. Once you have satisfied yourself regarding the circumstances surrounding the absence you will be in a much stronger position if you choose to go down a disciplinary route.

Within your employees’ contract of employment, it is important to make it clear that there is a process in place to deal with competing holiday requests. If you state for example that it is a ‘first come, first serve’ arrangement it is much easier to argue why someone has had their holidays approved over someone else. You may also want to introduce a system where holidays for a particularly busy time of year such as school holidays need to be requested by a certain date. This will give you and your employees sufficient warning that if there is a clash of holiday dates, this can be dealt with at an early stage. Also, it allows you to plan for any operational issues if there are a number of staff on annual leave at one time.

If people return late back from a holiday, as with those who are absent from work if they have had a holiday request turned down, it is important not to jump to conclusions and do some investigation to see whether this absence is genuine. It may be that their flights have been delayed on their way home there is another legitimate reason for them returning late.

If you are employing seasonal workers to assist you over the summer, it is also important to ensure that they are on the correct contract of employment that accurately reflects their working pattern.

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