HRLegal Newsletter July 2022: The Need… For Leave! How To Manage Annual Leave

Welcome to the July edition of the HRLegal Newsletter. This monthly collection of focused features seeks to keep readers abreast of all updates in the quickly developing world of human resources and employment law. As we enter a new world and way of working, HRLegal is at hand for all advice in relation to all things people and HR. Our responsive and personable team of experts are available by phone, email and via our social media channels for any support they can provide.

Read on for explainers and features compiled by our experts, Una Clifford, Bláthnaid Evans and James Condon. For more on how we can assist your business, visit www.hrlegal.ie. 

The Need… for Leave! How to Manage Annual Leave & Recent Changes to Parents’ Leave

James Condon, HR Business Partner

In this edition of the HRLegal Newsletter, we discuss the topic of managing annual leave and also discuss the recent changes to Parents Leave entitlement. 

Many businesses are set to have huge numbers of employees looking to take annual leave over the next number of months. Employees are looking to make the most of the loosening of Covid restrictions on travel and so many businesses are now becoming inundated with requests and are struggling to cope. Additionally, we are now starting to see the impact on businesses who allowed employees to keep or carry over their annual leave from times when Covid restrictions were much tougher. We are seeing employees with huge annual leave balances who are now requesting to use this all at once. HRLegal would suggest that businesses start to get on top of this issue as quickly. The summer months can be a useful time for businesses trying to reduce employee leave balances as many industries have a slight slow down in workload. 

The first step in addressing any annual leave headache or stress is ensuring the business has a very clear policy on annual leave and how requests are made. Generally, this type of policy can be found in an employee handbook and very clearly states the guidelines on how annual leave should be applied and when it can be taken. The policy should also look to limit the number of carry over days into the next year and would normally ensure any carry over days are used within the first 3 months.  Businesses should always ensure they include the ability to require staff to take annual at times which suit the business and its requirements. 

A very useful first step in clearing any large annual leave balance is ensuring any carry over from previous years is used up first before any current year entitlement. Business should look to ensure any unused balance from last year is cleared as soon as possible and certainly before we get closer to the year end. 

In terms of managing a high volume of requests, it is extremely important for the business to implement a strong documentation process and managers should be engaging in careful workforce planning. We believe workforce planning to be extremely important as ensuring the business has the ability to meet any demands placed on it should be a key priority. Managers should look to ensure clear coverage across their team and allow a buffer for illness or unexpected decreases in resources. A high volume of requests can be extremely stressful for managers and so adopting a policy that is fair and transparent is extremely important. 


Change to Parent’s Leave Entitlement
 

On the topic of leave and ensuring businesses are on top of things, did you know that Changes to Parent’s leave from 1 July 2022?

From July 2022:
•    Parent’s leave increased from 5 weeks to 7 weeks for children born or adopted after 1 July 2022
•    You can claim the additional 2 weeks’ parent’s leave if your child is under the age of 2 on 1 July 2022 or your adopted child has been placed with your family less than 2 years on 1 July 2022
•    You must complete the extra leave on or before your child’s second birthday or within 2 years of the adoption placement
•    Parent’s Benefit increased from 5 weeks to 7 weeks for each parent (if you qualify)
•    Parents of children born between November 2019 and July 2020 will not be eligible for the additional 2 weeks. 

This change is certainly a welcome addition for parents and businesses, who should now look to ensure they update their current policy.  Many businesses struggle with get to grips with all of the ‘family friendly’ entitlements that are currently in place for employees. This useful guide may be a good reference point. 

LeaveWho gets it?For how long?Is it paid?
Maternity leave                               
Female employees
26 weeks and up to 16 unpaid weeksYes. Maternity Benefit is paid for 26 weeks
Adoptive leave
One parent of the adoptive couple, or a parent adopting alone24 weeks and up to 16 unpaid weeksYes. Adoptive Benefit is paid for 24 weeks
Paternity leave
New parents of children under 6 months of age (usually the father/partner of the mother) or; in the case of adoption, the parent who is not taking adoptive leave)2 weeksYes. Paternity Benefit is paid for 2 weeks
Parental leave
Parents and guardians of children under 1226 weeks
No, it’s unpaid

Parent’s leave
Parents of children under 2 years of age; or
Parents of adopted children in the first 2 years of the placement of the child
7 weeks from 1 July 2022Yes. Parent’s Benefit is paid for 7 weeks

WRC 2021 Annual Report Published  
The Workplace Relations Commission recently published its annual report for 2021. The report provides a very interesting overview of the year and the trends surrounding its services. Over the course of 2021, some 12,000 individual complaints were received by the Adjudication Service and the number of hearings held increased by 75% on the previous year – almost all the hearings were held virtually.  The report can be found here.  

If your business is looking for advice on managing annual leave or on updating its HR Policies, please visit www.hrlegal.ie.


Quick clicks

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Have a look at some of our latest social media updates:  

June was Diversity Month, and HRLegal advises business owners to have a well-embedded Diversity and Inclusion approach. See our social media post on the topic, here

Did you know that 79% of employers in Ireland are having difficulties filling vacancies at the moment? The HR experts at HRLegal can help you with talent acquisition strategies… see our recent post, here.

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