The busyness of work and our end-of-year commitments always seems to catch us out. While we have best intentions of having everything in place, we inevitably seem to find ourselves scrambling to get organised and find information about our obligations for the holiday period. Below are some useful tips and information to help you prepare for the end of the year.
Advising your team of any closedown period
If you have a closedown, contractually you must give all your employees at least 14 days’ notice if you require them to take annual leave during the closedown. Ideally, we recommend that you inform your people well in advance of your closedown dates. We suggest clients start notifying their teams of a Christmas/New Year closedown around August/September.
Communicating the closedown clearly (including setting the expectation by advising of the closedown in employees’ employment agreements) ensures that:
- your people have plenty of notice to get themselves sorted for close down;
- your people can apply for leave;
- your teams can work out who is away and for how long;
- you know who is covering the days in between the statutory holiday days (i.e., the actual days such as Christmas Day and 1 January); and
- your customers and clients know when your key people are away, and when the business is back open again.
Some businesses will be open in between the statutory holidays, so getting your rostering and staffing levels right for this period is crucial.
Aside from your team, ensure that your clients and customers know what your operating hours are over that period. Be sure to update your operating hours on your website, Google profile, and any social media platforms you operate. If you are closed, ensure that you have one or two people who your clients can contact.
At Hello Monday, our main landline will always be managed by one of the team in case there is an employment issue (and we’ve been around long enough to know that there will always be one!) so we are on hand to take calls and help.
Why taking leave is important
Taking leave or time out for yourself, whether you are the business owner, manager, or one of the team, is extremely important to allow you to step away from work and recharge.
It is also a great opportunity to reflect on the year that has been, and to set goals for the new year, so that when you come back, you are raring to go. That means trying to shut down from work completely if possible, and not checking emails or calls.
Christmas and the New Year can also be a great time to reduce any high annual leave balances amongst your employees. This leave otherwise sits on your balance sheet as debt. It is always surprising to find the number of business operators who have not realised how important it is to manage annual leave to a minimum, as there can be a real impact on cash flow when you have to pay a departing employee their unused annual leave entitlements as cash.
If you and your employee cannot agree on annual leave dates, you can advise the dates you would like them to take to use the leave. A good compromise is also agreeing on a ‘leave plan’ over the short to medium term, to manage the reduction of leave in such a way that the timing works for both parties.
Navigating stat days
Whether you are open or not during the closedown period, plan and make sure you know who is working and who is not. Also, know what leave entitlements your people have, so that you can manage conversations with your team.
For example, you may have someone who just started. They will not have any annual leave entitlements, which will mean their time away during your closedown will be on leave without pay (or, with their agreement, you could give them leave in advance).
If you find yourself in this situation and need some help to interpret how leave entitlements work, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 09 377 5200.