Temporary Change to Annual Leave and Flexi-Leave Policies
Over the last few week we have fundamentally changed the way that we are working as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and these changes will continue to impact our working and home lives during the remainder of the year. As individuals, and as a business, we need to ensure that we can remain resilient and continue to manage in these unusual circumstances and beyond.
As a result we have made some important but necessary changes to our Annual Leave Policy and Flexi-Leave Policy and these arrangements were due to be reviewed prior to the end of July 2020. Following careful review and consideration it has been determined that the changes remain necessary for two reasons; to balance employee wellbeing, and to minimise impacts on our long term operational performance of the business. Our business is based on our people so we need to ensure that we are able to support the health and wellbeing of our workforce who are working in challenging and unusual circumstances. We can do this, together with other measures, by ensuring that staff are taking regular holidays which helps them get enough rest to keep them healthy, both physically and mentally.
We also need to plan for when the country starts to return to work and we go back to how the business normally operates. We need to begin to plan for future workforce capacity and to reduce the continuing operational and financial impact associated with the way we are currently working. This includes limiting the potential of a higher number of annual leave requests in the second half of the leave year and/or the ongoing impact of accommodating additional carry forward in future years. To achieve these two very important objectives we need to ensure that our workforce continues to use their annual leave entitlements evenly throughout the leave year.
This page outlines how we will achieve these objectives.
Annual Leave Policy: (Temporary Changes)
Two changes have been proposed to the Annual leave Policy:
1. All employees are required to plan to take a proportion of at least three quarters of their annual leave entitlements prior to 31 December 2020 as outlined in the tables below
|No of working days||Annual Leave entitlement (days)||Annual Leave Entitlement to be used by 31 December 2020 (days)|
People employed before 1 February 2017 have a protected entitlement and are therefore required to use a greater number of days in the same period.
|No of working days||Annual Leave entitlement (days)||Annual Leave Entitlement to be used by 31 December 2020 (days)|
- Line Managers are asked to review annual leave requests regularly with their teams and ensure that everyone has planned to take annual leave, in line with the minimum requirements set out above.
- Annual Leave should be recorded in the normal way using Bield Self-Service or annual leave sheets.
- It is important that annual leave is taken at a time that is convenient for Bield, and while we will try to accommodate your preferred annual leave dates, this may not always be possible.
- We recognise that our front line services may have greater difficulty accommodating leave at the current time. However, it is important to balance the need to continue to deliver our services with enabling people to take leave to support their health and wellbeing. Managers are asked to discuss any concerns with their Head of Service and agree reasonable levels of flexibility around these provisions.
- If staff fail to proactively apply for leave then as employers we are permitted, in accordance with the Working Time Regulations, to designate a particular time for annual leave to be taken by individual employees. We would prefer not to take this step; however it is one that we are prepared to take if required, to ensure that annual leave is used proportionately throughout the year.
2. A decision has been made to suspend the provisions in the annual leave policy for Selling Back Annual Leave in the 2020-21 leave year and requests to purchase annual leave for the 2021-22 will only be considered if full entitlement for 2020-21 has been used by 31 March 2021. Normal provisions for carry forward of annual Leave continue to apply subject to the adjustments outlined in (1) above about proportionate use of leave during the year.
3. A proposal from Employee Representatives to extend the deadline for the purchase of annual leave in the 2020-21 leave year to 30 September 2020 has been accepted. This means that:
- Employees who have not already made a request to purchase additional annual leave in the 2020-21 leave year may submit a request to purchase up to a maximum of 5 days annual leave (pro-rata for part time employees) in the current leave year on or before 30 September 2020. Requests submitted after this date will not be approved.
- Applications to purchase additional leave should be made using the approved application form (found on page 6 of the Annual Leave Policy). Your line manager will consider the request and decide whether or not it can be accommodated before returning the completed form to email@example.com.
- The cost per day is calculated on 1/260th of the employee’s gross basic annual salary (pro rated for part time employees). Payment for such leave will be deducted from the monthly salary during the leave year.
- We must be clear that in line with the current policy that employees who purchase annual leave are not eligible to carry forward unused annual leave entitlement to the next year and therefore any purchased annual must be used in the 2020-21 leave year along with your normal entitlement.
Flexi-Leave Policy (Office-Based Employees Only)
- The Flexi Scheme is designed to provide employees with the opportunity to work their contracted hours in a flexible way to meet personal circumstances. We encourage people to use the flexi-scheme to manage their working hours throughout the month.
- At the current time, employees should be working their normal contractual hours each day and making sure to take a proper break in the middle of the day. If you need to work a little later one day to complete a particular piece of work then you should use this time to alter your start or finish times on another day.
- It is important, when working from home or the office that our services are operational during core time and you should agree any variations to your working hours with line managers in the normal way.
- Line Managers should review flexi-leave sheets on a monthly basis and take appropriate steps to agree how to reduce flexi-leave balances where credit has accrued.
- In a change to the policy we do not expect employees to accrue flexi-credit and the ability to use flexi-credit to take full or half days of leave will be temporarily suspended and reviewed at 31 December 2020.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
It is important to reassure you that these are temporary measures which have been taken in response to the exceptional and challenging circumstances that we find ourselves operating in. We have taken consideration of legislation, health and safety, employee wellbeing and operational considerations when making these changes and believe that they are reasonable and proportionate. We will continue to review these provisions during the course of 2020-21 responding to changing conditions and will inform you of any further changes.
The Q&A below should answer any remaining questions that you may have.
If you require further information or have any additional questions please contact your line manager or a member of the HR Team on 0131 273 4020 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We need to consider the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our ability to continue to deliver our key services and also protect and secure our long term financial position. Most importantly we need to support our staff to have an appropriate work life balance which includes the need for people to take time away from work for health and well-being purposes. Everyone is working and living in situations which present very different types of challenges to what they normally face. Time away from the work is important to make sure that we remain resilient and able to face the wider challenges and support each other in the long term. Secondly, to plan for future workforce capacity we need to ensure that the workforce continues to use their annual leave entitlements evenly throughout the leave year. We need to do this in order to prevent operational and cost impacts associated with a large number of employees requesting to take accumulated leave in the second half of the leave year and/or the ongoing impact of accommodating additional carry forward in future years because people have been unable to take their full entitlement in 2020/21.
Yes, the Government announced new rules about the carry forward of annual leave over the next two years as part of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic. These rules apply only to some of your statutory annual leave entitlement i.e the first 4 weeks of your annual leave entitlement. The rules in relation to additional carry forward also only apply to circumstances where employees have been unable to take their annual leave because of the Covid-19 pandemic. So, if an employee has taken the equivalent of 4 working weeks in the 2020-21 annual leave year then they are not entitled to carry forward any holidays over and above this amount, other that the limits set within our Annual Leave Policy.
In addition, The Working Time Regulations place a responsibility on employers to ensure that employees are able to take a minimum amount of leave in relation to time worked and a similar responsibility on employees to take their leave throughout the leave year so that the employee is able to maintain a good work life balance.
It is therefore important that everyone plans to take their annual leave entitlement evenly throughout the year to avoid forfeiting annual leave entitlements that exceed the carry forward limits in our policy.
The Working Time Regulations permit an employer to designate when an employee takes their annual leave by providing them with written notice of when the annual leave is to be taken for the first 4 weeks of your annual leave entitlement. The written notice must give at least double the amount of time as the period of designated holiday (i.e. for a one week period of leave we would be required to provide you with two weeks’ notice of when that leave should be taken). As part of the temporary changes to the policy we have noted that we would prefer that employees choose when to take their leave but if this is not done then we will designate a time for them to do so. We would prefer not to take this step, but it is something we are willing to consider if it is necessary to do so.
I don’t want to take my holidays just now and would rather wait until I can travel abroad. I will use my full entitlement this year, why can’t I wait until later in the year to take my holidays when I want to?
Aside from our personal responsibility to take annual leave evenly throughout the year to manage our work-life balance. The restrictions on foreign travel affect everyone and we don’t know when that will change or what provisions will be in place around quarantine for people returning from foreign travel. If everyone waits until there is clarity about future travel abroad before planning to take their annual leave then this will have an operational and financial impact on Bield. It may mean that we are unable to accommodate requests for annual leave and/or continue to deliver our key services because of multiple periods of annual or concurrent periods of annual leave across teams.
Selling-back annual leave is also a cost to the business and one which is very difficult to plan for. If everyone chose to sell-back annual leave at the end of the 2020-21 leave year the cost to Bield will be significant. At this time, we feel it is more important to encourage and enable employees to use their annual leave balances evenly though the year to take time off work to protect their own health and wellbeing.
Yes, the provisions in relation to carry forward of annual leave outlined in our annual leave policy will continue, subject to the proportionate use of leave during the leave year. The carry forward limits will be strictly limited to those outlined in the policy.
No. Employees who have been put on furlough leave will continue to accrue their annual leave entitlements. However for the same reasons as outlined for staff who have not been furloughed, employees who have been placed on furlough leave are also required to use a proportion of their leave entitlements during the period of furlough leave.
If you already have annual leave plans in place, then we understand that you may wish to change the arrangements, perhaps to take several shorter periods of leave rather than a two week block. You should discuss your plans with your line manager and agree an arrangement that meets your preferences and the needs of the business. Rather than cancelling leave we would expect to see changes to the timing of leave.
No. Using the flexi-time policy sensibly to give day to day flexibility around your working hours and balance your working time and non-working time on an ongoing basis, is also something that can help and support your health and well-being in these circumstances. Flexi credit is something that should be accrued when the business requires you to work additional hours, which for most people is the case currently, however over the course of the flexi period it is expected that these balances should be manged so that excessive hours are not accumulated. Our current focus of requiring people to use annual leave entitlements means that your manager would be less likely to be able to approve flexi-leave and therefore these provisions have been suspended on a temporary basis.