How to manage staff holidays?

Things seem to go to bad to worse for Ryanair following the way they’ve not managed holiday entitlement. As you will know, they have had to cancel thousands of flights, and their reputation has been severely damaged with threats of legal action.

I find it incredible that a basic line management function like managing holidays can have such an impact. Their whole approach has not only impacted on their customers but also the way they handled the process with their staff (the pilots), and does nothing for engagement or loyalty.

Have a Holiday Procedure in Place

We work with dozens of clients and I’ve been in HR for over 20 years, and never seen holidays managed so poorly.

What do you do in your organisation?  Do you have a process in place?

It’s good practice to have a holiday procedure in your employee handbook, detailing the notice your staff should give and any rules around the maximum time off at any one time, any periods where holidays are restricted and if you permit leave to be carried over.

Top Tips to consider

We also use an online HR system called MyHRToolkit, which some of our clients are using to store personal data and to manage holidays.  Do you have such a system or something else in place that allows you to track holiday usage?

You could use traditional paper methods or even an excel spreadsheet – whatever works for you.

I’d also encourage you to talk your staff about their holidays during 1-1s – advising them how many days they have left and highlighting where they haven’t taken holidays.  This is good practice to ensure you’re complying with the working time directive and allows you to make plans – your staff will also be more productive and refreshed after some time off.

You can use a holiday calendar or wall planner to track who’s off when and ensure you’re not granting too many holidays at the same time.

Encourage staff to give as much notice as possible – this allows you to plan and also ensures they’re likely to get the days off they want.

Ensure any shut downs you’re notifying people of this and updating their entitlement.  You should also ensure any times you can’t accommodate for business reasons are made clear in your policy.  For example, if you work in retail, you may want to limit time off in December if this is a key trading time.

It’s also good practice in your rules to operate a first come first served policy, rather than employees who have been with you the longest getting first choice.

I’ve also seen businesses request holidays are taken in full weeks, i.e. Monday to Friday, rather than Wednesday to Wednesday to ensure they’re not limiting the holidays for other colleagues.

Where you know you have key holidays (i.e. school holidays), and if this is a busy time, you may want to think about extra staff – you could look at some temps perhaps to help cope.

I hope you’ve found that useful and you don’t follow the mistakes that Ryanair have made! For any advice or support on this subject, please feel free to contact us.

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