Managing authorised leave can be tricky, but things can get even more complicated when dealing with unscheduled time off. The complexity of absence planning for shift workers will largely depend on the type of work rota software you choose.

Managing annual leave on a shift rota


Absence shift planning is easier when staff are aware of your absence policy. For holiday requests, they should know:

  • How much notice to give
  • How priority will be assessed
  • How public holidays will be handled

Most workers have the right to 5.6 weeks’ holiday per year. This will be calculated on a pro-rata basis for shift workers.

You can round-up to a half-day when your staff haven’t worked a full day.

To work out leave entitlement, you can:

  • Create formulas in spreadsheets.
  • Use the free annual leave calculator on the website.
  • Let employee rota software do the legwork with automatic calculations.

Maternity leave shift management


Your shift workers who work part-time have the same rights as full time workers. The Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 covers your shift workers’ entitlement to maternity leave.

When an employee has notified you that they’re pregnant, you should make allowances when rota planning for:

  • Antenatal care appointments
  • Maternity leave, which can be up to 52 weeks

The website has a calculator that shows how much time off and maternity pay staff are entitled to.

You’ll need to discuss with the expectant mother how much time she intends to take off. If your existing staff can’t provide enough cover, you might have to take on another shift worker for the duration of the maternity leave.

In addition to maternity leave, shift workers also have the right to request shared parental leave and paternity leave. The entitlements are as follows:

  • Paternity leave - one or two weeks’ paid for full-time workers.
  • Shared parental leave – any remainder of the 52 weeks of maternity leave.

See the website for paternity and shared parental leave eligibility criteria.

Unplanned absences and shift planning


It’s inevitable that sickness and emergencies will prevent your staff from attending work at one time or another.

Your staff should already be aware of the procedure to follow if they can’t make their shift. This is where our absence management feature really comes into its own.

Your rota planning tool should give you an overview of who is available to work the shift of the absent employee.

What should your absence shift planning tool be able to do?


To make managing absence as stress-free as possible, the tool you use should include these features:

  • An easy way for staff to request or swap shifts
  • Leave entitlement calculator
  • Staff availability
  • An overview of busy periods
  • How much absence cover is costing your business
  • Track authorised and unplanned absence
  • Generate reports

Efficient absence shift planning with workforce scheduling software makes sure your business continues to tick over whether your staffs’ leave is scheduled or unexpected.

Related articles

Rota planning

Work shift calendar

Shift work risks

Night shift work


Clocking in systems: here's why your business will benefit

Shift patterns at work

Employee scheduling

How to make a rota

Paid VS free rota software

Why use an online rota?

FREE employment law advice for businesses

Request your free call back now to speak to our HR experts. Get your employment law questions answered today.

Enjoying our posts?

Take a look ar our latest article on The New Workforce