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Three steps to a successful holiday policy

11 May 2022 Marijke Beelen Employers

Everyone needs a holiday from time to time. Did you know that full-time employees, working a five-day week, are entitled to 20 statutory days of holiday? Even if they also worked full-time in a five-day week the year previously. Non-statutory holiday and working-time reduction days are frequently added. As an employer, it is advisable to put your holiday policy in place to avoid jeopardising your business continuity. After all, you want to avoid having everyone absent at the same time, even if you don't take an annual collective holiday. If you would like to have a successful vacation policy in your organisation? these are the steps to follow:

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Step 1: Collective or individual?

First and foremost, sectors decide on holiday days. The industry can decide on holiday days for the following year until 31 December. The classic example of collective leave is construction leave in the construction industry. If the sectors do not have agreements on this subject laid down in a Royal Decree, the decision for collective or individual leave will be at the company level.

If the employer chooses collective leave, agreements with the works council are required. Although there is no end date on this, it is best for the works council to establish this as early as possible. Since the sectors can decide until 31 December, January is a good time to make clear agreements. Of course, agreements at the corporate level should not contradict any sectoral agreements. In sectors where it is known in advance that the social partners will not lay down anything on this subject, this may well be earlier.

If there is no works council, the agreements must be made with the union delegation. If there is no union delegation, then it is an agreement between the employer and all employees. In the latter case, a message is often hung up in practice. If there is no objection, the vacation schedule is implicitly accepted.

Don’tt forget to include the dates of the annual collective vacation in the labour regulations and send a copy to the regional directorate of the Labour Inspectorate – Supervision of Social Laws.

If the employer chooses to take an individual approach, holiday planning and taking must always be done by mutual agreement between the employer and employee. The employee usually proposes dates, and then the employer agrees (or not).

Popular holiday periods can cause problems, such as the summer holidays and the Christmas holidays Holiday legislation provides employers with several avenues to avoid this problem. For instance, you can give priority to parents with children during school vacations. Another solution is to set up a rotation. For example: In 2022, person A may choose first, followed by person B and then person C. In 2023, person B may choose first, followed by person C and person A, etc. The regulations also state that each employee is entitled to a continuous period of vacation of 2 weeks for adults (and 3 weeks for minors) between 1 May and 31 October.

You can also require a minimum staffing level (possibly by team) in your organisation. So as keep everything on track, an annual schedule can be drawn up (at team level) so that everyone sees each other's holiday schedule and can respond to it (such as respecting a minimum occupancy and agreeing on dates between colleagues). This can easily be done using an Excel document. Once that schedule is in place, employees can request their leave from the employer. This is better than the employee wishing to withdraw holidays that have already been officially requested and approved, because once approved, the employer is not obliged to return to a request. This must again be done by mutual agreement.

Step 3: Monitor the schedule

Using up statutory holiday days in a timely manner can be a problem. Sometimes employees have many days left on the counter at the end of the year. However, it is a legal requirement that your employees use up all their statutory holiday days before the end of the year. On inspection, failure to comply may result in fines.

You can easily avoid a surplus of statutory holiday days at the end of the year. Our advice is to schedule a time in September to review your employees' holiday plans. If there are employees who have too many days left, say more than two weeks, notify them in writing. Ask them to schedule their leave days as soon as possible so that their counter is zero at the end of the year. As an employer, it is important that you can prove that you gave your employees notice and gave them the opportunity to take their leave in a timely manner. For this purpose, it is best to have a letter signed for receipt. For the employees themselves, this will be a trigger to work on their holiday planning so that there are no problems by the end of the year.

Find out about Acerta Connect Employee Self Service: the easiest way to manage leave requests

Thanks to Acerta Connect ESS, your employees can now declare their leave-taking, sick leave, home working days, etc., using their smartphones. Convenient and timesaving!

Discover Acerta Connect ESS

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Written by Marijke Beelen

Juridisch adviseur bij Acerta

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