When should I start my holiday year? – advice by Alan Price, CEO and HR expert at BrightHR

Alan Price, CEO and HR expert at BrightHR, explains why there is no ‘right’ date to start your staff holiday calendar – only the right date for your business

When it comes to deciding on when to start and end a holiday or leave year, employers should be aware that there is no hard and fast rule.

Instead, organisations are free to decide on their approach, so long as they give individuals 52 weeks to take their minimum annual leave entitlement. When a leave year should fall will vary depending upon the specific needs and requirements of the business, and employers should approach this with care.

Many organisations may choose to align their leave year with the calendar year, running from January to December. This approach may help avoid any confusion and should be simple for managers, HR and employers to remember. However, employees can often find themselves in a position where they need to use up untaken annual leave towards the end of the leave year. This leave year can lead to a rush to use up entitlement over the Christmas period, a time that may already see a large number of holiday requests.

Alternatively, another option is to align the leave year with the company’s financial year, a vast majority of which run from April to March to coincide with the tax year. Structuring holiday allowance in this way should make financial reporting simpler for employers and avoid the previously mentioned Christmas rush in the process. Some businesses may even consider coinciding the leave year with the academic year if they operate within education, such as universities, or take on students fulfilling temporary roles as part of their studies.

It is important to note that not everyone in the same department has to have the same leave year.

For example, an employer may purposely choose to have some staff on a January to December leave year, some from April to March and some from July to June. Regardless, to ensure compliance with the law on holiday entitlements for employees, it is essential that employers clearly state when their leave year falls and, specifically, ensure their employees are aware of it. If employees are not provided with an opportunity in which to take their full entitlement by not being informed they are running out of time in which to take it, their employer could potentially face costly tribunal claims.