By Liz Iles, Consultant at Croner

Are you one of those employers that think it’s nice to give employees with children first refusal for summer leave? Well you could be in for a rude awakening if you do.

Croner, the UK’s largest provider of workplace information, software and services is warning well-meaning bosses that if they let parents take holidays over the rest of the workforce it could lead to costly claims of direct and in-direct sex discrimination from those without children.

The Working Time Regulations 1998, amended by the Working Time (Amendment) Regulations 2007 set out the following requirements on paid holiday entitlement:

Workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks’ holiday per year (28 days for employees working a five or six day week). Workers engaged to work fewer than five days per week are also entitled to 5.6 weeks’ holiday per year. The entitlement should be pro-rated for part-time employees, e.g. for an employee working three days a week, statutory annual leave entitlement would be 16.8 days (3 x 5.6 weeks).

Managing holidays: a few simple tips

• Make sure you have a policy in place with clear guidelines for granting holiday requests. This should include how multiple holiday requests are dealt with (e.g.‘first-come-first-served’).

• State that all employees will be treated equally, but personal circumstances may be considered.

• Family commitments should not automatically grant an employee permission to take annual leave, although you may want to take this into account in an attempt to be fair and reasonable to all of your employees.

• Don’t forget you can refuse a holiday request if there is a genuine business reason, such as the need for the work to be done or the premises to be supervised.

• Be seen to be actively adopting their holiday policy to help avoid accusations of discrimination.

Finalists for the Croner Employer of the Year award will be announced on 2nd August and the overall winner will be announced at the National Business Awards Gala Dinner on 8th November. If you would like see who wins, and mix with the most influential people in UK plc, book your places now. Call 0207 234 8755, email Anthony.akoto@ubm.com or visit www.nationalbusinessawards.co.uk for details.

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