3 Tips on Managing Employee Time Off Over the Christmas Period

Author: Eugenija Steponkute
Published: 18/11/2020
managing employee time

Winter festivities put a strain on many companies. We want to support business owners and managing directors in preparing their organisations for it. In this article, we will share tips on how to grant your staff Christmas time off in a strategic, business-preserving way.

Some people start Christmas preparations in November. Others refuse to think of Christmas until December 1st. And as an employer, the earlier you start planning for the festive period, the better.

Many businesses see a spike in demand for their products or services during the Christmas season. If you’re one of them, then it simply isn’t feasible to grant your entire team time off over the period. But don’t worry. We are here to save you some Christmas-induced headaches.

How to Manage Staff Holidays?

Before we dive into a specific list aimed at the Christmas period, let’s look at some general tips on how to manage staff holidays:

  1. Have a clear holiday policy;

  2. Block out times when no time off will be granted;

  3. Outline times when time off must be taken;

  4. Adopt a holiday management system to be notified and review holiday requests on the go;

  5. Create a process of booking time off;

  6. Set a limit on how many team members can be on annual leave simultaneously; 

  7. Define a notice period before requesting time off;

  8. Define a notice period for yourself to reject the request;

  9. Have a calendar that shows who is off and until when;

  10. Optimise to operate on a first-come, first-served basis.

Once you have these things in order, we can start talking about a more specific period.

3 Tips on Managing Employee’s Holidays Over Christmas

Minimise stress and ensure you and your team can get into the festive spirit this year. Here are tips on how to effectively manage employee annual leave over the Christmas period.

1. Inform Employees of Your Leave Policy

Prioritise making your team aware of your leave policy for the festive period. As the gov.uk website states, employers are entitled to:

  • tell employees to take leave, including over Christmas;

  • restrict when leave can be taken, such as over busy periods (i.e. Christmas).

If you look back at the general tips we’ve shared at the start, this is almost a summary of them all. But let’s add some depth to it and discuss the details.

First of all, the notice period must be at least twice as long as the leave you want your staff to take. You need to tell workers before the notice period begins. If you know that Christmas is one of your busiest periods, you should be encouraging staff to take regular breaks throughout the year. This is also important for their well-being.

Ensure you have a strategy to minimise disruption by keeping track of each team's annual leave. Simultaneously, make sure that a minimum amount of employees work at any one time for each team. Timesheet Portal's time off management module allows you to do just that, preventing having too many people off at the same time. It also manages annual allowances and carryovers, as well as lets you book, approve and manage time off. Additionally, it comes with an adjustable holiday calendar you can customise to your needs.

2. Ensure Everyone’s Aware of Holiday Carry Over

The government passed a couple of new laws in March 2020 to address the pandemic. According to them, staff can carry over up to four weeks of the paid holiday into the following two leave years. Employees may not have used up their full holiday entitlement, because of restrictions preventing them from traveling. Alternatively, some struggled to disconnect their workspace from their home space, meaning they wouldn’t get to enjoy any downtime.

Rather than have all staff take their remaining allowance at the end of the year, make sure they know that they can carry over leave. This benefits both parties. It means employees can better utilise their time off how they please now, and you can better manage the demand over the festive season.

3. Set Expectations with Clients

When it comes to clients, the best thing you can be is honest. Let them know turnaround times might be a little slower for a couple of weeks as your business operates with a smaller workforce. While this might mean inconvenience to them, transparency normally builds trust. It in turn contributes to stronger relationships.

By managing expectations, you position yourself as a responsible and truthful partner. You will learn that most clients won’t just be very understanding but also appreciative of you giving heads up. As well as of you still doing your best to deliver value, even against the odds. 


The Christmas period can get very stressful for employers, leaving little to no festive spirit to enjoy. However, if you start planning employee time off ahead of time, it can be easily averted. And if you’re not a fan of beginning to think of Christmas mid-autumn - we’ve got a solution for you.

Our automated time-off booking module makes the process of staying on top of festive season holidays very streamlined and overall easier. And, if you are starting your Christmas prep now, you can try it out for free.

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