A 200% increase in the number of people looking to book foreign holidays has been reported, following the Government announcement that fully vaccinated travellers no longer need to complete a PCR test before departure.
The first Saturday of the New Year – labelled Sunshine Saturday by the travel industry – is usually the most popular day for travel bookings. A sudden surge in annual leave requests could leave employers struggling to give everyone time off, especially if they’re all looking to go during the highly sought-after school summer holiday period.
Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula said: “With the removal of the need for a PCR test on return to England from 4 am on 9th January 2022, foreign holidays are being booked at levels not seen since before the pandemic.
“Whilst this is great for the travel industry, it comes at a time when many employers are faced with staff shortages due to Covid infection rates, who might be reluctant or unable to grant everyone take time off without it having a significant impact on their business.
“Employers need to be fair and reasonable and understand that for many employees, this is their first opportunity to take a foreign holiday since 2019. With careful planning, it should be possible to accept most annual leave requests for these long-awaited holidays, by arranging overtime, shift swaps and alternative working patterns.
“In cases where it’s just not possible, understand that employees will be disappointed and explain the reasons behind your decision rather than just giving a flat out ‘no’. Try to find a resolution that satisfies all parties.”
“Unfortunately, there is always a chance that holidaying employees might return with more than just a suntan; some could contract Covid, meaning they would need to take another week off in isolation. Should this happen, employers will need to treat them like any other employee, and pay at least SSP. With the SSP rebate scheme back in operation costs can be minimised
“Employers need to consider that the importance of time away from work. Many employees may have had to carry over annual leave from last year at your request, due to staff shortages and the last 2 years have been incredibly stressful for everyone. The benefits to both business and employees from taking time out and enjoying holidays are huge.
“Whilst an influx of annual leave requests landing on your desk at one time can seem overwhelming, it’s good news that things appear – at least for now – to be getting somewhat back to normal.”