With Easter here and summer is nearly upon us, it’ time to think about holidays! As a self-employed consultant, one of the few things I miss about being an employee is entitlement to paid leave! UK employees are legally entitled to paid holidays from day one of their job, and since April 2009, that has meant a total of 28 days in a year of full-time work (including the eight annual Bank Holidays).

Paid leave, however, is one of the many employee benefits that business owners have to pass up. Although we can take as many days as we like, too much time away will almost inevitably have a detrimental impact on the business. This is particularly true for us sole traders, who have no-one else to rely on to cover for us while we’re lying on a beach in Fuerteventura. Which, incidentally, is where I expect to be as you’re reading this. Just thought I’d put that in :o)

Research by Santander Business Banking showed that 10% of all business owners didn’t take annual leave in the past year, while 76% admitted to having holiday disrupted by work issues. (And while my laptop is staying firmly at home, the iPhone is coming with me as I sadly still hyperventilate when I’m more than a few feet from it…)

Business owners must remember it’s important to take a break. Over-working can lead to stress-related health problems, which can have a more detrimental impact on your business in the long-term. The key is good planning. Identify your less busy times of year, minimise any necessary workload while you are away and ensure you have access to business banking and email to keep on top of vital issues. Delegate where possible, and remember that a week or two of reduced earnings is nothing compared to several months off with work-related stress! Look after your own health, and you’ll keep your business healthy too.

In other holiday news, the Employment Appeals Tribunal made a ruling last year on employees’ holiday pay entitlement – in the employers’ favour. Following the case of Lyons v. Mitie (should you want to look it up…), employees must comply with their employer’s rules on requesting holiday – using the correct procedures, timescales, forms, carry-over restrictions etc. If not, they risk losing their entitlement, despite the provisions of the Working Time Regulations.

This goes to show that even employee’s statutory rights are not exempt from challenge, and the terms and conditions of the employment contract and Annual Leave policies have a strong bearing on entitlements! That said, the provisions and conditions of those contracts or policies still need to be fair and reasonable. So, make sure you have clearly defined and equitable requirements and that your staff are fully aware of them.

Finally – what’s grey and has a trunk?

A mouse going on holiday!

What’s brown and has a trunk?

A mouse coming back from holiday…!