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Christmas Comes Early For Employees

1 December 2020 3 min read

Man working with a Christmas tree in the background

It is safe to say with the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic this year, the announcement of the end of lockdown 2.0, and the introduction of a new tier system we could all do with a bit of downtime.

Equally, it is unsurprising that UK employees have a surplus of unused holiday, ready and waiting to be used up before the end of the year. In fact, we reported back in October that 37% of Brits had 14 or more days of holiday left to take, and now, with less than a month before Christmas, the cracks might be beginning to show.

December: the two-week month

With a reported 65% of people choosing to use up the remainder of their annual leave in the build-up to Christmas, December is looking like a 2-week month for the UK workforce.

Employees either deciding to extend their festive celebrations and book a longer Christmas holiday, or work shorter weeks leading up to the 25th December, means that businesses are looking at up to 40% of their employees being off any given time.

A big concern for businesses will be managing end of year targets alongside customer obligations, in what is already a traditionally shorter and busy month.

The holiday rollover

On top of these immediate concerns, businesses need to be wary of the ‘holiday roll over’ for 2021. With 35% of staff planning to carry over remaining annual leave into the new year, the problem is likely to persist beyond the festive period.

An easing of lockdown measures to allow families to come together at Christmas could see tighter restrictions enforced in January and February, to ensure a degree of control of the virus in the winter months.

Therefore, with no immediate holiday to plan in 2021 and a supposed vaccine on its way in spring, an expected rise in booked holidays is likely to occur, leaving businesses understaffed in Q2 2021 as well. Not to mention the increased likelihood of seasonal illness leading to unplanned absence in the first part of the year, and the amount of admin HR teams can expect in handling this process.

Learn from the data

Many businesses will be looking back at 2020 and working out what could have been done better and visibility will be key to this. Absence management strategies should be considered if not just for the reason of better managing holiday around the busy festive period and to ensure business targets are continually met, but also for HR teams likely left with the job of ensuring holiday entitlement is up to scratch and all in order, planning for the peaks and troughs ahead.

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Katrina Bennett People Director at edays
December 1, 2020

Katrina is edays' own People Director with significant UK and international experience in delivering people strategy and value-adding HR solutions across a range of organisations and sectors (including Arriva, Boots, Rolls Royce, the utility and charity sectors). Katrina has over 20 years of experience in Human Resources and is CIPD qualified.