1. We are struggling to accommodate annual leave requests, what should we do?
Annual leave is an important benefit that allows staff to rest and recuperate, especially during this period of significant pressure. Every effort should be made to manage leave requests to ensure all staff can take their leave in a fair and equitable manner, whilst acknowledging that not all requests can be accommodated at any given time. Employers can refuse annual leave requests, and in some circumstances, may have to do so during the pandemic.
2. Are we able to cancel annual leave that’s been pre-agreed?
Only in exceptional circumstances should you consider cancelling an individual’s pre-agreed annual leave. This should be a last resort, having engaged sensitively with the individual and in consultation with local staff side representatives.
You will need to give the individual the appropriate statutory notice and consider whether compensation is appropriate for any out of pocket expenses that the individual may sustain as a result of cancelling their holiday plans.
The equality impact of any decision will also need to be considered.
3. A member of staff has exhausted the option for special leave to address caring responsibilities, can they use annual leave?
Yes, in line with local policies, annual leave or unpaid leave can be considered to support staff with requests for additional time off to fulfil caring responsibilities.
Bank holiday arrangements
1. Given the expected surge in work over the Easter bank holiday, are we able to ask staff who would not normally work these days to come into work as normal?
An organisation’s response to increased patient demand due to COVID-19 may be to run services at weekday levels during bank holidays. Where staff are required to work on the bank holidays you would need to pay them the appropriate bank holiday rates and credit their leave with time off in lieu for the public holiday, to be taken at a later date. Where an employee would normally not have worked the bank holiday (without having needed to book it off) or is a shift worker who has booked it off, the normal notice requirements for cancelling leave would apply.
In the first instance, we would advise that you reach agreement with individuals in order to provide the required level of cover. Only if you have insufficient cover should you then move to require staff to come into work. You will need to take into consideration the personal circumstances of individual staff. It is important to recognise that staff will need time off to rest and recuperate during these challenging times and, where possible, the individual needs should be balanced against the needs of the service, avoiding cancelling of leave where possible.
Working with local staff side to agree an appropriate approach will ensure a fair and equitable response in these difficult circumstances, and ensure continued goodwill should this approach be needed for upcoming bank holidays in May and August.
NEW 4 MAY
2. Do staff members retain the right to public holidays when self-isolating or shielding?
Where the public holiday is rolled up into a leave entitlement for shift workers or part-time workers, yes this would be retained. For staff where the public holiday is not rolled up into a leave entitlement, no this would not be retained.