The increase in statutory holiday entitlement from 24 to 28 days will be felt particularly keenly in sectors that have traditionally needed to open on bank holidays, such as retail or hospitality.
Mark Padley, area HR adviser at retail clothing company Uniqlo, told Personnel Today: “There’s always been an understanding that bank holidays could be included in the statutory entitlement. In reality, it’s very difficult to apply that in retail because a large number of our staff don’t work bank holidays, or Mondays at all, because we have a large percentage of part-time workers.”
As a result, the company has introduced a standard package of 28 days across the board, which it expects to create challenges in accommodating the volume of holidays and extra administration for line managers.
Paul Sellers, policy officer at the TUC, believes the new arrangement will also affect companies in the restaurant trade, health service and office support activities, such as cleaning or security, as well as businesses that use agency workers.
Days off in lieu
Perhaps the biggest change is companies that only offer the statutory minimum holiday allowance will no longer be able to offer staff the ability to carry over holidays from one year to the next, or pay employees in lieu.
Jan Marshall, director of HR for Marriott Hotels, County Hall and Twickenham, said this means HR has to be prepared for any legislation ahead of schedule. The group produces an annual employee handbook, published each January. The business already offers 20 days plus bank holidays as a minimum holiday allowance.
The right to request flexible working will be extended to those with children aged 16 or under.
Manufacturers’ body EEF pointed out that this law change will be more problematic in an industry such as manufacturing, and has called for it to be put on hold in the current economic climate.
David Yeandle, head of employment policy at EEF, admitted the prospect of reducing employee hours could make it more appealing to manufacturers. “But that doesn’t mean to say they haven’t got to think through the practical implications and equally the implications on those people who want to work in a more conventional fashion,” he said.
Paul Reynolds, HR director at contract catering company Elior, said the changes could have a big impact at his company. “It opens the door to a much larger group of people, but we don’t know from the data we hold how many that is, because we’re not allowed to ask the ages of people’s children,” he said.
Sally Brett, senior policy officer at the TUC, said companies that have already embraced flexible working will have the necessary policies and practices in place. “We’d like to see it become a universal right,” she said.
Some industries, such as the hotel industry, tend to operate flexibly on shift patterns, Marshall explained, so are less likely to be affected. For Reynolds, though, the current ruling – which grants the right to request flexible working to parents with children up to the age of six or a disabled child under 18, as well as carers of adults – already goes far enough. “I can’t imagine how much further they could stretch it,” he said.
April will also see another increase in the weekly rate for statutory sick pay and for those on maternity, paternity or adoption leave.
But Sheila Gunn, partner and head of employment at law firm Shepherd & Wedderburn, said this was significant for all sectors because it brought into line the non-monetary benefits for those on ordinary and additional maternity leave, meaning those taking a year off work were still entitled to receive all such perks.
“It’s important that businesses focus on their rights and obligations with people on maternity, paternity and adoption leave, and make sure they’re not slipping up,” she said.
“There is a lot for people to get their heads around,” she added. “It’s fine for an HR department that has one person doing this and one person doing that, but it’s really hard for smaller businesses where you’ve got one person trying to juggle the lot.”