New government policies to help them tackle the coronavirus crisis including the introduction of furlough, home working and the relaxation of rules on carrying over annual leave are creating a major challenge for employers in trying to keep track of employees.
The government recently announced that workers who have not taken all their statutory annual leave entitlement due to Covid-19 will now be able to carry it over into the next two leave years.
Adrian Lewis, Director of absence management software provider, Activ Absence says, “This is welcome news for many businesses who are trying to stay on track in the most trying of circumstances. In many cases, employees can now continue to work and support their companies without losing out on annual leave entitlement.
“With everything in flux and schools remaining open over Easter to accommodate key workers’ children, many companies are reporting that staff who had holidays booked over the Easter break have cancelled leave as they can no longer travel.”
The temporary rule change means that staff cancelling annual leave now will have a longer time period during which they can use it, so there won’t be the usual ‘use it or lose it’ panic to take all accrued holiday before the end of the leave year. However, for businesses without the appropriate technology in place, it will be a challenge to keep track of these changes both during the restrictions and once they are lifted.
Another challenge for employers is that annual leave will continue to accrue for those staff on furlough as they are still company employees. In this unprecedented situation, it is vital that managers can monitor who is working and when.
Lewis says, “More than ever, employers need to be able to track and manage employee absence and holidays efficiently. With many people working remotely, managers need visibility of who is working, who is sick or caring for dependents and who is on annual leave or has been furloughed. Using spreadsheets or paper based systems won’t be adequate.”
When restrictions on movement are lifted, annual leave will have to be carefully managed. While the relaxation of the rules on carrying over annual leave will relieve the pressure to use up leave before the end of the year, managers will likely see an influx of holiday requests when people are able to travel again.
Lewis comments, “In such uncertain times planning ahead is very difficult, however, it seems likely that people will want time off just as companies will be keen to get everyone back in the office to catch up on lost business. It will be a struggle to get the balance right. While businesses will want to encourage staff to take time off, they can’t allow key members of staff to be away at the same time.
“Absence management software allows managers to limit the number of people within a team who can take leave at the same time and those applying for leave can clearly see if anyone else already has time booked off giving everyone transparency.
“Making use of the technology available will enable companies to better manage their staff right now as well as make for a smoother transition from lockdown back to business as usual in the future.”