Christmas Holidays 2011 – a few things to remember!

Christmas is traditionally a time when staff like to take time off to be with family and friends. Very often this can mean that people need to travel reasonably long distances and with our recent weather conditions this time of year, it can be quite a stressful time for everyone concerned.

As the employer, it is important to remember a few key points in relation to this:

  • A number of Public holidays fall in December and January ie: 25th, 26th December and 1st January.  
  • Employee are entitled to these public holidays as paid time off work as set out in the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997.
  • One exception is part-time employees who have not worked for their employer at least 40 hours in total in the 5 weeks before the public holiday.
  • Employees who qualify will be entitled to either the public holiday off as paid leave or one of the following alternatives:
    • A paid day off within a month of the public holiday
    • An additional day of annual leave
    • An additional day’s pay
  •  Where a public holiday falls on a weekend, you do not have any automatic legal entitlement to have the next working day off work. This occurs in 2011 when Christmas Day (25th December) falls on a Sunday. It also occurs in 2012 when New Year’s Day (1st January) falls on a Sunday. This means that Tuesday 27th December 2011, and Monday 2nd January 2012 are not public holidays. When this happens you are entitled to the normal alternative arrangements as set out above.
  • If staff encounter difficulty return to work after their holiday break due to weather conditions or unforeseen circumstances, you should discuss the individual circumstances with each employee and agree a fair and reasonable approach ie: unpaid leave, holiday leave, or opportunity to work back the time etc. Different employees may have different needs and the same solution may not suit everyone, so approach the matter with a level of flexibility and understanding.