I’m looking for some advice please and wondered if anybody can help me:

We have a team of 24/7/365 shift workers working 4 days on, 4 days off, 12 hours each shift. Using the calculation on the Direct.Gov website (5.6 weeks entitlement x 3.5 shifts worked per week = 19.6 12 hour shifts annual entitlement) the team is entitled to 19.6 shifts off a year as a minimum.

Contractually, we offer full time, standard hours workers 22 days holiday per annum, plus bank holidays, rising with length of service to 28 days holiday per annum plus bank holidays.

We have realised that when we set the shift team up, rather than reducing the number of holidays they were entitled to, rather than reducing the amount of shifts (or days as we are still calling the holidays) to account for the fact that they worked less shifts a week, we actually increased their holiday entitlement to compensate them for working more hours a week than the standard full time workers (approximately 42 hours a week worked compared to 37.5 hours for all other staff).

This situation needs to change because at the moment we are trying to find cover for far too many holidays (e.g. due to length of service and the agreement we incorrectly put in place, most of the team had the equivalent of 8.5 weeks holiday last year).

I know how to manage any proposed changes fairly and with enough notice etc. but I am unsure as to what would be an equitable amount to take their holiday entitlement to. 

I suggested that as the shift workers do 3.5 shifts a week and full time workers do 5 days (or shifts) a week, we should give the shift workers 70% of the full time worker’s holiday entitlement (3.5/5 *100). I thought this would be equitable because financially they are not losing out and it just brings the breaks in line. However the argument that came back is that it is not fair because the shift workers work more hours per week and therefore should be given more breaks.

If you have any thoughts or could possibly share how you manage 24/7/365 holiday entitlements compared to your non-shift working full time employees I would really appreciate it.

Thanks a lot,