Employers facing challenges over unused annual leave

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WITH fewer workers planning and taking holidays this summer, local businesses are facing significant challenges over the use of annual leave and associated knock-on impacts.

And while 45 per cent of business owners are considering some changes to annual leave, most have not yet made any decisions on how to proceed.

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Almost half are still unsure how, and whether, to compensate employees for unused holiday time with many employees facing greater uncertainty.

According to research undertaken by business advisors Willis Towers Watson, only a quarter of business owners have adjusted their annual leave policies with 14 per cent stating that employees will forfeit any unused annual leave.

Some businesses have already taken the decision to carry forward any unused annual leave but around half of the organisations surveyed were still unsure of how best to compensate employees for unused days.

However none of them said they were considering reimbursing employees in cash.

The survey also looked at trends concerning sick pay and entitlements in the current landscape. The survey suggests that employers are prioritizing employee wellbeing and health, providing reassurance to employees.

Nearly two in five employers will pay employees their full wage if they are asked to self-isolate at home with only 3 per cent asking them to use their annual leave for such an eventuality. Over half of employers are not considering any changes to their normal sick pay procedures.

60 per cent of the employers surveyed have introduced shift flexibility to provide support to those juggling childcare considerations, while 56 per cent have increased access to counselling.

Sarah McDonough, Practice Leader at Willis Towers Watson in Ireland, said that as the initial impact of Covid-19 settles, businesses now face the challenge of how best to navigate annual leave planning and supporting employees directly impacted.

“With so much accrued and disrupted leave, there is a danger that too many employees will be on leave in the second half of the year, potentially leaving businesses vulnerable as they are getting back on their feet.”

“It is encouraging to see employers being open to changing practices. Whether it be annual leave or sick leave, it will be important for employers and employees to work together to manage the day-to-day fall out of Covid-19 to ensure future success,” Ms McDonough explained.

by Tom McCullough

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