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Leave and absence: How to bridge the bank holiday gap

5 September 2023 6 min read

leave and absence

September’s here, and there are no more UK bank holidays or public holidays for the rest of the year until Christmas. That creates a bank holiday gap between now and the end of the year – which poses a few questions and challenges when it comes to how employees experience absence and use leave throughout the rest of the year.

With a lack of pre-set holidays during the rest of 2023’s calendar, employees might struggle to use up what remains of their annual leave allowance as the year draws to a close.

What’s more, there’s a good chance your organisation will see a spike in absences during the autumn and winter months. It’s flu season, so sickness might be higher than normal, and with children returning to school, employees who are parents might need to juggle extra childcare duties and school-runs.

So, what do HR and people managers need to be aware of at this time of year, and how can they support their teams and the business?

Having a handle on holidays

With the majority of the UK’s public and bank holidays occurring during the first eight months of the year, it’s common for employees to tag on extra annual leave days to maximise the use of their holiday allowance. You’ve probably seen many articles along the lines of “How to turn 19 days of annual leave into 48 days off this year” – and many employees do choose the use their leave entitlement in this way.

That means, however, that during the final four months of the year, employees could be left with a backlog of annual leave days to book in.

And depending on your policies surrounding annual leave carryover, employees might lose those unused days, or create a headache for HR in manually reviewing, checking and updating everyone’s carryover allowances.

Performing a review of employees’ annual leave usage this year to date will help to shed light on who has used all of their holiday so far,  and who has a significant amount left to use. For any employees in the latter category, enable your people managers to have conversations with those individuals – it’s an opportunity to encourage them to use up their remaining leave allowance, or find out why they might be saving it up or struggling to make use of it.

You might even consider introducing a flexible bank holiday policy – allowing employees to choose when they would like to use their bank holiday and public holiday days, rather than sticking to the pre-determined dates. Doing so supports greater cultural inclusivity within the workplace, since the majority of the bank holidays in England and Wales recognise events in the Christian calendar.


Listen to our webinar discussing the benefits and challenges of creating a flexible bank holiday policy here!

Managing absence and team resource

As the autumn and winter approaches, you might see sickness absences increase within your teams. We know that employees will need to take time off work to recover from illness from time to time, but it can be more prevalent at this time of year onwards.

How can your organisation prepare for any increases in absence, and resource plan accordingly so that workflows and targets stay on track?

This is where having access to, and analysing your people data becomes an incredibly powerful tool for managing absence effectively.

Looking at your absence data for last year, for example, will help you spot any trends or patterns – enabling you to predict what might happen this year. And if you can predict, you can plan for it and ensure you have robust processes in place to deal with it.

These processes might include return to work procedures and regular check-ins with individual employees. And to make those processes as effective as possible, ensuring that your people managers feel comfortable and well-equipped to manage those processes is key.

The result is a resilient and agile organisation, with employees that feel supported in their work, and in any recovery from sickness. With the right support and processes in place, it might just mean that they are able to recover more quickly and even take fewer absences in the future as a result.

Boosting employee wellbeing

During the darker, colder months of the year, many people find themselves suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It’s a disorder that leads to feelings of sadness, or not feeling ‘like yourself’ – brought on by a lack of exposure to daylight.

In the workplace, fewer hours of daylight can actually impact productivity levels, so it’s worth employers considering what they can do to help alleviate this issue, at least in part.

Here are a few ways you can help employees cope with the darker mornings and evenings:

  • More light: consider altering your office floorplan, desk layouts and breakout areas where possible, to maximise how much natural light enters the space
  • Encourage time outdoors: If employees are spending all day indoors, rarely venturing further than the office kitchen or bathroom, they’re not being exposed to natural light for large periods of the day – and by the time they leave work it’s already dark. Encourage employees to make use of their lunch break by going outside and taking a walk. You can also organise short coffee runs throughout the day to help people get outside for fresh air and a quick break
  • Organise social events: Socialising is an important part of life and integrating work with team activities can really help to boost wellbeing – at any time of the year
  • Provide health-related resources: Whether it’s distributing information regarding Seasonal Affective Disorder, sharing NHS recommended tips for combatting it, or ensuring the kitchen is well-stocked with healthy snack and drinks – it’s important to ensure that employees are able to look after themselves whilst they are at work

Supporting your people and your organisation

As the seasons shift, so too will the way your employees experience absence and use their remaining leave allowance during the rest of the year.

Understanding how absence and leave is used, and how they impact your organisation, are crucial metrics that enable you to support your people and the business as we enter what is often the busiest time of year for many companies.

With edays, you can gain the tools you need to track absence, seamlessly manage holiday booking, and gain key insights behind the data. Enabling your organistion to build resilience, resource plan effectively and support the wellbeing of your employees.

Want to learn more? Click here to book a personalised demo of edays

Georgina at edays
September 5, 2023

Georgina Mackintosh is an accomplished copywriter and marketing professional with a background that spans several industries. Her writing focuses on HR topics such as employee wellbeing, engagement and experience - as well as absence management best practice, how-to guides and news from the HR sector.