With the school holidays fast approaching You HR are often asked about flexibility for parents during the summer break. ACAS have recently published a newsletter containing some of the most frequently asked questions about annual leave during school holidays and we thought we would share them with you.
Can an employee take three weeks holiday during the school summer break?
As long as the employer agrees to the request then yes, the employer will look at the levels of staff off at any one time and they may agree to someone taking three weeks leave. However, they can also refuse this request if too many people are off. The employer should have a policy regarding when leave can be taken, how many people can be off at any one time etc. Employers should be fair and consistent with all staff when considering requests.
Can an annual leave request be refused?
Yes, employees have the right to statutory annual leave but the employer can say when leave can or cannot be taken. Some organisations have shutdowns when employees have to take leave, others may stop people taking leave at certain times of the year during busy periods.
Does an employee have a right to take time off if their childminding arrangements break down?
The legal right is to reasonable "time off for dependants", which can give you time off to deal with emergencies. This would be unpaid and would normally expect to last one or two days (or what is considered to be reasonable) so other arrangements can be put in place. Some employers may suggest the use of annual leave or special leave which the employer may give with pay.
Can a flexible working request cover just the school summer holidays?
If a request for flexible working is made the employer will need to agree any new work pattern, however once agreed it will make a permanent change to the terms and conditions of employment. Any other arrangements for a temporary change to work patterns may be negotiated between employer and employee.
Where a longer-term arrangement is required, the employee could make a request for flexible working in the form of a term-time only employment contract. As with any other flexible working request, this will need to be agreed by the employer. An employee on a term time contract of employment is typically contracted to work for a total of 39 weeks per annum enabling the employee not to work throughout the 13 weeks school holidays per year (as determined by the Local Education Authority).
Written by Gemma Lavery, Consultancy Practice Manager and Kairan Knight, HR Operational