Annual Leave Policies

Who are flying your planes?

Ryanair has a lot of angry customers to placate, due to a series of cancelled flights that are reported to affect 400,000 passengers. We’re not PR specialists so we won’t comment on how this has been handled, but we are HR experts so we do have an opinion on the crux of the matter.

The problem as Ryanair admits “we messed up in the planning of pilot holidays”.¹

Ryanair’s business is seasonal. As we understand it, pilots are encouraged to take a block of 4 weeks annual leave between September and March, out of peak season, with the remainder on an ad-hoc basis. We assume this should leave enough pilots available through the busy periods from Easter and through the summer.

However, there are a couple of further complications: 1) the number of hours pilots can work in a given period and 2) a new regulation that they have to comply with (Irish Aviation Authority told the airline that, by the end of 2017, they must adopt the rules set by European regulators and use a calendar year).

Whilst we’re certainly not providing an excuse for the mess Ryanair find themselves in, the point is, annual leave needs to be managed properly.

Annual leave needs to be managed

Annual leave can be just as much of a challenge for the owner of a small business. Your business may not be seasonal and you may not have industry regulations to comply with, but annual leave can be tricky to manage. Resources need to be balanced to keep your business operating smoothly and staff need to be treated fairly.

Annual leave is a legal entitlement for all full time and part time employees and effective management of all leave is a key component to employee satisfaction and the successful running of your business. And let’s not forget keeping customers happy.

It is therefore vitally important that both the employer and the employee have a clear understanding of the annual leave policy and that there is no ambiguity, which can lead to frustration and dissatisfaction in the workplace.

Your Annual Leave Policy needs to deal with a number of key areas:

  • Statutory rights to employee leave – what is their entitlement?
  • Holiday notice periods – what is the minimum period to give?
  • How is that notice given? – written, verbally or through online applications
  • How the business plans for annual leave
  • Effective tracking and approval of annual leave
  • Maximum amount of leave that can be taken at one time
  • Fixed periods where the employer can stipulate when leave is taken
  • The right of the employer to refuse annual leave
  • How leave can be accrued and how much of the entitlement can be accrued
  • What happens when sickness coincides with annual leave
  • Parental leave entitlement and annual leave
  • Unused annual leave when employment is severed
  • How annual leave and bank holidays are pro-rated for part time staff

It’s clear by this list, which by the way is not exhaustive, that the annual leave policy is complex and therefore needs to be accessible in such a way that it can be clearly understood by all within the business.

Here are a few examples of how we are helping our clients with their Annual Leave Policies:

  • Manage the holiday leave process including pro-rated calculations for part-time staff
  • Create and write relevant annual leave policies for clients, either for handbooks or one off policies
  • Deal with issues (good and bad) and questions relating to annual leave

If you feel that your Annual Leave Policy requires either implementing or stream lining Lloyd HR Consultancy can help you.  Please call Charlie Lloyd or 01737 336336 or email us

P.S. Don’t forget that your Severe Weather policy should also include issues related to cold weather as well as hot weather!

¹ Source: Independent 18th September 2017