Managing Easter Absences

Its almost Easter and every year, HR teams and employers around the country try their best to accommodate their people whilst keeping the business moving along.

Simon Dalley: BrightHR Brand Marketing Manager

Here are some of the issues surrounding Easter and absence, over the holiday period:

Holiday Allowance and Easter

Easter has a habit of migrating around the calendar and this can be a real headache for HR, because if you don’t watch it, you can end up short changing your team out of their statutory minimum holiday allowance.

The minimum statutory holiday period is 28 days and whilst companies such ourselves offer a minimum of 25 days plus bank holidays, most businesses in the UK work out as 20 days of holiday plus 8 for bank holidays. The problem occurs between this year and next due to the migration of Easter which could see businesses throughout the UK short changing their employees of 2 days.

In 2015, Easter was in April, whereas in 2016 it will be in March and in 2017 it will be back in April again. That means that if your employee holidays follow the tax year of April to March you’ll only have 6 bank holidays in the financial year 2016-2017 whilst employees will have received 10 bank holidays in 2015-2016 because Good Friday is on the 25th March and Easter Monday falls on the 28th March.

The issue for you as an employer is that if your contracts state your employees receive 20 days holiday allowance plus 8 bank holidays you will be in breach of your statutory requirements to provide 28 days of holiday allowance per annum, unless you provide an additional 2 days of holiday to be taken by the employee during 2016-2017.

It’s probably a good idea for employers to review their contracts in these circumstances to include a clause to say the employee will receive 28 days holiday including bank holidays (see the UK bank holidays here). Don’t take my word for it though, speak to an HR advisor before you do anything!

Easter Bank Holidays 2016

25 March    Good Friday
28 March    Easter Monday

Easter Bank Holidays 2017

14 April        Good Friday
17 April        Easter Monday

Everyone’s off at once

The schools are out, which means kids are off and the parents within your organisation are perhaps going to have trouble finding coverage for the whole Easter period - bear in mind it’s not just the Easter weekend you’ve got to think about, holiday requests and absences could encompass at least a week on either side of the Easter weekend.

At BrightHR we have a relatively young team, however we still have a significant proportion of parents within the workforce, so we’re very conscious about how we accommodate them whilst making sure we’re still fair to the rest of the team. Most of this is handled by departmental heads, who use the BrightHR App to plan their team’s time.

In addition, when we conducted our It Pays to Play report with Professor Sir Cary Cooper we found huge differences in the way people perceive their roles within and outside of the workplace, and it’s likely there will be differences in the way generations want to take time off, with many older worker traditionally taking an extended break over the Easter period.

Accommodating Christian Employees at Easter

Employers need to be aware of their responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010, and whilst a member of staff cannot refuse to work if contracted to work on a religious holiday such as Good Friday, Easter Sunday or Easter Monday, the employer should be careful because forcing a Christian to work during this period this could amount to indirect religious discrimination if it places them at a particular disadvantage when compared with employees of other faiths, or non-religious employees (or visa versa).

Indirect discrimination isn’t something to worry about too much if you can make a legitimate business case for it. But really, most businesses will have enough time to talk to their team and to work out the best way to deal with a rota for those people who want to take time off on religious grounds. Just don’t leave that conversation too late!

Using HR software to manage Easter Absences

With all the above to contend with, the last thing you need to be worrying about is holiday request forms and excel spreadsheets. With Easter approaching, why not take out a free trial of BrightHR to see how your business could benefit from using HR software during busy holiday periods.