Summer is generally one of those times in the business calendar when requests for leave escalate. It can be a challenging time for any business owner and one for which planning ahead is essential so that you can be sure your operation continues as normal.
Currently, full time employees are entitled to 28 days of paid leave per year. Many of these employees will expect to be able to take their leave during the key holiday seasons – namely summer and Christmas – and in order to maintain high levels of staff morale, many business owners try to make provision to allow as many requests as possible to be honoured, often by shouldering the burden themselves.
However, this is not always going to be practical. It is therefore essential to plan ahead and develop policies on when leave can be taken that are fair to staff and at the same time maintain customer relations and turnover. Avoiding last minute emergencies is a key objective and the following advice should prove helpful in doing just that.
Identify Peaks and Troughs
The first thing to do is be clear on when your business tends to experience its busiest periods, and when it is generally quieter. Once you have identified your peaks and troughs you can set your leave policies around them. It may be that you have a policy that leave cannot be taken at certain times, unless there are extenuating circumstances. You may also wish to introduce a shutdown period during any particularly quiet interludes.
Plan for Seasonal Fluctuations
If your business experiences high demand during certain periods of the year, you may find it works better for you to employ a small core of staff on a permanent basis, and then take on short-term temporary workers to help you cope during the higher demand periods. Don’t forget though that agency workers are entitled to certain rights, including equal pay that falls in line with permanent employees, once they’ve been with you for 12 weeks or more.
Cross Train to be Ready for the Unexpected
There is nothing like being prepared, and having multi-skilled staff on your team is an excellent way to be ready to tackle any ’emergency’ situation. Say for example your business experiences an unexpected boom period, and this coincides with a time when you have agreed to a number of leave requests. If you have cross-trained and cross-skilled your workforce, then anyone will be able to step in to help as required.
If you are thinking about how you will cope this summer as the many requests start to come in for leave, why not speak to your bookkeepers? They’ll be able to help you plan ahead based on historical peaks and troughs, and will also assist with cashflow forecasts so you can work out how taking on any additional temporary labour will affect your bottom line.