Managing Work and Family in the School Holidays

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Whilst a great time for some, the school summer holidays can pose a real challenge for a lot of working families. Struggling for childcare, or the rising costs of childcare, a lot of working parents need to take time off work during the holidays in order to care for their children.

Problems can arise, however, when trying to get the necessary approval from employers to take an extended period of leave. Especially if a lot of members of staff request the same time off.

Here are some ways in which you could attempt to minimise these potential difficulties, followed by your rights should your employer not grant your reasonable requests to take annual leave.

Plan Holidays Well in Advance

Whilst this may not always be possible if planned childcare lets you down at the last minute, the better you prepare for the holidays the less stressful it will be at the time.

Preparing well also allows you to give your employer more notice of your requested leave, increasing the likelihood that a longer period of time off will be granted.

Explore the Possibility of Flexible Working

Should you not wish to take leave or if you are unable to do so due to the nature of your work or the demands of your employer, you could discuss flexible working as a viable alternative.

This could involve reduced hours certain days and longer hours on other days. It could mean remote working from home a few days a week, or simply reduce the number of days per week for a specified period of time with pro-rata pay.

Flexible working is often a mutually beneficial compromise between the needs of the business and family life.


Annual Leave Entitlement

The statutory annual leave entitlement is 5.6 weeks paid leave per year. This means that nearly all employees are entitled to this leave as a minimum every year, the equivalent of 28 working days.

You may be awarded more at the discretion of your employer. Many businesses award long term employees with extra paid holidays in line with their length of service. Other businesses have greater leave entitlements in line with the nature of the work. For example, certain shift workers may work solidly for two weeks and then have two weeks off to rest.

There is no legal requirement for an employer to give employees public holidays off work.

Annual Leave Disputes

Should a dispute occur between you and your employer there are various ways this can be resolved. In the first instance communicate your grievance with your employer in an attempt to resolve the problem internally. Usually, an informal meeting will be sufficient to work out a solution that benefits both parties.

Should this approach fail, you should consult the company handbook or personnel manual, which your employer should have given you access to when you started your employment. This should detail the formal grievance procedure that you can follow.

Your employer’s grievance procedure should include these steps:

  • Writing a letter detailing your grievance to your employer
  • A follow-up meeting to discuss the issue
  • The option to appeal your employer’s decision

We recognise that this can be a stressful and emotional process so we are on hand to assist you and help you fight your corner. Please contact our Employment expert Matthew Finley on 01282 433 241 to discuss your options in more detail.