Under the Working Time Directive legislation employees are entitled to the statutory minimum time off, including bank holidays, regardless of how busy businesses are. In practice, we know this is not always easy to follow. We would recommend looking into your current contact and handbook policies to put systems in place to allow you to have more control over when holiday can be taken. This should hopefully allow for a smoother process and mean all staff are on deck, ready for your busiest period.
Spending a little time before the rush to work out what cover you expect to need and what staff you currently have in place would be the best starting point, if time allows. From this we would then be able to see where your gaps are. We do still recommend zero hour contracts in situations where the real zero hour relationship exists. With regards to holiday pay and overtime we would recommend getting the staffing numbers right in the first place to avoid some of the overtime pitfalls.
Easy in hindsight, we know, so in situations where this was not possible we would recommend a case by case analysis of the staff to see what liability you have as a company to pay additional holiday pay once any overtime has been taken into account.
It could be a brilliant time to carry out your staff appraisals, or at a minimum have a one to one catch up. These meetings should provide feedback to staff on how well they are doing, update them on targets and what the focus of the business will be in the new year. It would be a great time to consider any training needs. As HR professionals we always recommend regular reviews of your processes and procedures and terms and conditions to allow you to be compliant with legislation and fighting fit for when your business is stretched again.
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