Time To Switch Off?

It is likely you have employees on holiday at the minute, or who may be soon. As they prepare to set their auto-responders on their emails, have you given thought as to your obligations to them whilst they are on annual leave?

Working Time Regulation

The paid holiday entitlement provided by the Working Time Regulations for workers is intended to provide them with a period of rest from work, and to safeguard their health and wellbeing. That may not be unexpected news to you as an employer but have you considered whether your employees really do take time to switch off from work? Increasingly we are hearing of cases whereby employees have felt obligated to check and reply to emails whilst away from the office, and as an employer it’s important to consider if this is the culture you are fostering. Do you require your employees to be available when on holiday if you need to contact them by phone or email? With the advancements in modern technology it can be all too easy to expect a member of the team to be contactable but the implications of such expectations may include a breach of your obligations under health and safety legislation (for example, where the demands of the role and having to always be available contribute to work related stress), or a breach of the Working Time Regulations (for example, where time expected to be contactable is considered as time on-call).

Be Proactive

We recommend that employers are proactive in taking steps to encourage employees to switch off when on annual leave:

  • Consider introducing a policy to set out expectations of employees when they are on annual leave. You could include details with regards what circumstances may require contact, and how any annual leave time required to work will be reinstated.
  • Provide training for your manager/s on how to plan ahead for absence within their team/s. Well informed managers will be able to communicate expectations clearly to their teams and discourage a culture where employees feel obligated to always be available; experience no gap in service.
  • Consider initiatives such as the automatic forwarding of emails to a colleague when an employee is on annual leave. This may prove reassuring for employees who can be confident their work is being managed in their absence, and positive for customers who will experience no gap in service.

We at Willis Consulting and Employment Services can work in partnership with you to help you identify the best approach for your business, develop your policy and deliver management training. We can also help you undertake risk assessments and work with you to devise strategies to minimise the risk of workplace stress. With many employees going on holiday at this time of year now is the time to seek advice to help minimise your liability moving forward. Call us today on 02890 329042 or email info@willisconsulting.co.uk and a member of the Willis Consulting team will be happy to help.

Kind regards

Janet Kerrigan



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