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Acas launches free guide to help employers deal with summer holiday leave requests

Friday 17 July 2015

Workplace experts, Acas, have launched a new free online guide on leave to help employers who are worried about how to deal with a flurry of summer holiday demands from working parents as schools break up.

According to recent ONS figures, nearly nine out of ten UK families have family members in work who could have to juggle work and childcare over the next six to eight weeks.

The summer holiday rush could cause potential problems for employers and small business owners who want to be fair in granting staff leave requests whilst still needing to meet business needs.

Acas Head of Information and Guidance, Stewart Gee said:

"Schools will be breaking up for the summer and many bosses may get a raft of holiday requests from parents, which can be hard to manage in a way that keeps staff happy whilst keeping their businesses productive.

"Our new guide reminds employers of the various options and legal entitlements that are available, which can also help parents know what they are entitled to ask for.

"We always encourage both employees and employers to plan ahead where they can and be ready to explore whatever flexibilities are available when it comes to busy hot spots like the summer holidays to help your staff enjoy a summertime break, without losing business."

Acas has produced a set of top tips for employers to help them balance both business and personal demands when schools break up:

  • Know the score with leave entitlement: most workers, whether part-time or full-time, are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks' paid annual leave. Additional annual leave may be agreed as part of a worker's terms and conditions of employment. If a worker does a five-day week, they are entitled to 28 days of leave. If they work a three-day week, the entitlement is 16.8 days of leave. This can include bank holidays, there is no statutory right to bank or public holidays.
  • Learn from previous years, you can't always say 'yes': think about what time off requests might come in based on previous years and think about what plans staff might have and also what your usual level of business is during this period of time. Equally, parents themselves might also want to talk to others in the team to come up with an arrangement that will help the employer when it comes to managing requests for annual leave.
  • Speak to staff early on to plan ahead: a good conversation with your employees can allow you both to come up with a good arrangement that works for both of you. For example, options for customer facing roles can be limited but you might find offering staff something like mobile working more suitable, which allows an employee to work all or part of their working week at a location away from their employer's workplace. Traditional mobile workers include sales representatives and delivery drivers. See our flexible working guidance.
  • Check your policy or get a policy in place: parents may want to take off a block of time like three weeks off over the summer. To deal with these requests, you should look at any sticking points where the levels of staff will be too low at any one time. You can refuse this request if too many people are off but if there is enough cover then you can agree to someone taking three weeks leave. You should have a policy regarding when leave can be taken, how many people can be off at any one time - so be familiar with what the policy says.
  • Be fair and consistent: although the summer holidays are a popular time off for parents so that they can spend extra time with the children, manage childcare, or enjoy a family holiday, remember it is important to always manage annual leave requests fairly with all staff.
  • Think about short term flexible working requests: you might want to discuss and negotiate a temporary change to working patterns during the summer holidays. This could mean adjusting working hours or the working pattern. A good balance between an employee's work commitments and family responsibilities can help to reduce stress, absence and increase productivity.

The Summer holiday guidance is available on the Acas website. Acas also offer advice on longer term flexible working solutions. From flexi-time to compressed hours, there are multiple ways for those with childcare responsibilities to strike a better work-life balance. The full range of options available both for long term and shorter term arrangements is available from The right to request flexible working.

Notes to Editors

  1. The full Summer Holiday annual leave guide is available. The guide has been published to remind employers and employees of annual leave entitlements at a popular time for holiday requests. In England and Wales, the school year traditionally runs from the first week of September to mid-July of the following academic year. The Scottish school year begins in mid-August. The school holiday period for summer therefore varies according to area (this also applies to private schools).
  2. Office for National Statistics figures published in the Families in the Labour Market, 2014 published 9 December 2014, shows that working families make 87.7% of the UK population, which is the highest percentage since comparable records began in 1996. The full report Families in the Labour Market, 2014 is available from the Office for National Statistics - Families in the Labour Market, 2014.
  3. Flexible working and work-life balance guide is available at The right to request flexible working. It is a helpful guide that highlights the various options for working more flexibly. The right to request flexible working is now available for anyone, not just parents, which means can be good for businesses and families. More information on flexible working is also available at The right to request flexible working.
  4. Expectant families might also want to be aware of shared parental leave, which gives parents more choice and freedom in how they share the care of their child in the first year after birth. More is available from Shared parental leave and pay. Only eligible employees can apply for shared parental leave.
  5. Acas stands for Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. Acas provides free and impartial information and advice to employers and employees on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law. We support good relationships between employers and employees which underpin business success. We also provide good value, high quality training and tailored advice to employers. Our expertise is based on millions of contacts with employers and employees each year. Acas is an independent and impartial statutory body governed by a Council made up of members from business, trade unions, academia and the law.
  6. For media enquiries please contact Sophia Said, Media and Internal Communications Manager, on 0207 210 3680 / ssaid@acas.org.uk. For out of hours media enquiries please call the out of hours duty press officer on 020 7210 3600.