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)
5 34 25
4 27 20
3 20 15
2 14 10
1 7 5

 

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)
5 37 28
4 30 22
3 22 16
2 15 11
1 7 5

 

  • 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 hr@bield.co.uk.
  • 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 hr@bield.co.uk