If you offer any enhanced entitlements to leave than is legally required then these should be mentioned in your employee handbook, contracts and/or policies along with any conditions that might apply to this enhancement, including eligibility and in what circumstances this may be retracted if they do not comply with company procedures. Some examples could include:
- Company Sick Pay - this could be an entitlement to full pay for a certain amount of time and conditional on a staff member following the employer’s absence reporting requirements for example.
- Enhanced Maternity Pay - this could be specified that the first initial weeks are on full pay as opposed to the usual 90% of earnings and that a condition of this would be that they sign a declaration to say they will return for a period of 3 months following the end of their maternity leave.
- Long service holiday increases - linked to a staff member’s length of service, to reward staff for staying longer with the company and improve staff retention.
Leave Policies - Why you should be clear
It is useful in some circumstances to have a procedural document for both employees and the employer to adhere to when it comes to your leave policies, so it is clear to everyone what the usual procedure is for making any individual leave request which can also include requirements such as notice for requesting leave and within what time period you will respond to any request. Setting expectations to staff beforehand is useful in avoiding conflict later on and avoid any confusion around what their entitlements to time off from work are.
We are often asked how can employers respond to requests for leave that are not included in the policy or employee contracts? For example, someone who wants 3 weeks off as paid leave with 1 extra week unpaid or someone who wants enhanced maternity leave/bereavement leave?
The answer is that if there are any requests for leave or pay that exceed the statutory entitlement and/or are not covered in your handbook, policies or contracts then to put it simply, there is no requirement for you to accept these requests. Depending on the nature of the request you may want to be sensitive to their request and you may even decide on a discretionary basis that you may permit them to take this extra time off. If this is the case, be mindful of consistency.
For example, if an employee had a bereavement and the usual company policy is that they can have unpaid time off and/or can request holiday for this time, you could instead decide to pay this at full pay for a certain duration of time if you felt this was appropriate based on the circumstances of the case. However, you should consider the precedent this could set and if similar requests come in from other staff and how you will deal with these requests fairly and consistently to avoid any potential claims of discrimination or favouritism in the workplace.
If you are not able to facilitate the request due to this not being something that the company can provide then it can be useful to refer staff back to your handbook, contracts and/or policies.
Why choose SafeWorkforce?
If you do not have these documents in place at present then this is something that the Alcumus SafeWorkforce HR Team can assist with, as well as advising further around various types of leave and entitlements that will apply based on the various situations that you may encounter as an employer.
At SafeWorkforce we’re able to offer you an outsourcing service for your Human Resource needs so that you get:
- Specialist guidance from our experts.
- Supporting you in becoming legal and compliant.
- A tailored approach that suits your business.
To speak to a member of the team, get in touch on 0333 355 9140 opt.4 or make an enquiry.