Posts from December 2018

 
Annual Holiday Entitlement 
This subject raises a lot of questions and can be confusing. Disputes about holiday leave are common. 
Here are a few common questions we get asked. 
 
Can I carry over annual holiday entitlement? 
As we reach the end of the year many people may not have used their holiday entitlement and therefore would like to carry this over to the following year. 
It is possible to carry over leave, but it is up to the employer to decide how many days they will allow, and this should be added in the contract along with the holiday booking policy. 
 
How much holiday entitlement do I have? 
If you are an employer, it is important that the holiday entitlement is very clear in the employees’ contract. The number of days they are entitled to should be detailed and the dates of the holiday year period. For example some companies run 1st January – 31st December and some April-April. 
 
Booking your annual leave
There might be certain days and times of the year when leave will not be allowed. Many employers need a certain amount of notice for your leave. The general guideline is a minimum of four weeks’ notice for two weeks leave; however, it is important the notice required is stated in the contract as some companies may require more notice in order to arrange staff cover. 
 
Can my employer refuse a request for holiday? 
Employers can refuse a request for leave, providing they give at least two weeks’ notice for a two-week holiday request. The contract should also state how much holiday can be taken at any one time. Many companies limit leave to a maximum of 14 days at any one time, however some companies offer more flexibility and might be able to you the option to take more. 
Always book your holiday dates with your employer before booking a holiday and paying a deposit! If your holiday request gets denied you could end up facing costs to change your holiday, so don’t take the risk! 
 
Are bank holidays included in my annual leave? 
With regard to Bank Holidays there is no automatic right to paid leave. An employer can choose to include these as part of statutory annual leave. 
 
Can I be made to take holiday at certain times by my employer? 
Yes you can! Remember that some companies may require employees to take leave at certain times, such as Christmas, bank holidays or an annual shut down so ensure this is clear in the contract. 
 
I started mid way through the holiday year - how do I know how much holiday leave I can take? 
You start to accrue a holiday entitlement from the day you start your job. You can use this online calculator to work out how much leave you will be entitled to by entering the information about your start date and leave entitlement it will work this out for you. Got to https://www.gov.uk/calculate-your-holiday-entitlement 
 
How do I avoid disputes over holiday leave with staff? 
Be clear in the contract from the start! 
Clarity in the employees’ contract is vital to ensure they are fully aware of when leave can be taken, how much notice is required, how much can be taken at any one time and whether leave can be carried over. This avoid confusion and makes the company policy clear from the outset. 
 
Keeping track of annual leave 
There are a number of online programmes you can use to manage annual leave or for smaller companies a simple excel sheet can be used. Make sure there is a request form, signed off by the relevant person in the business and keep a copy on file. For larger companies using an online programme such as Breath HR or Kiss Flow will help manage staff holidays and keep track of the number of days staff are owed.  
 
Special circumstances  
There will always be situations where an employer may have to decide whether a special provision should be made, for example in the case of family illness, bereavements or an emergency and this is down to the discretion of the employer. 
 
Need more help dealing with annual leave issues? 
Contact us or check out this information on the ACAS website  
 
 
 
As the chill of winter takes hold, businesses up and down the country are bracing themselves for the treacherous conditions that can make outdoor work so difficult. Ice, snow, heavy rain, and short, dark days can all present serious hazards to employees in the construction industry, especially if your business isn’t adequately prepared. So, it’s essential that you have a plan in place to help keep your workers safe when out working in bad weather. 
To help you get winter-ready, we’ll discuss the essential personal protective equipment (PPE) that businesses need to offer their employees during dangerous conditions, as well some tips for boosting staff morale during bad weather. 
 
Provide warm clothing 
Construction workers and those who spend a lot of time on-site are at more risk of cold stress, which can lead to a range of extremely dangerous illnesses and conditions, like frostbite and hypothermia. The only way to protect your workers is to ensure they have the correct protective clothing. 
Multiple layers are warmer than one thick layer, as the air trapped between each layer acts as insulation. So, encourage employees to wear several base layers, and then offer them an insulated overcoat. This should be adequately waterproof, and not so bulky that it might limit their movement on the job. It should also feature reflective strips and other high-visibility features. 
 
Head and face protection are also essential, especially during very bad weather. Bitterly cold conditions can tempt workers to switch their helmets for hats, which can leave them vulnerable to accidents and injuries, so offer them some clothing which works with their headgear. These helmet liners from Zoro fit neatly underneath standard issue hard hats, keeping workers both comfortable and safe. 
Boots should also be waterproof, as wet feet will quickly become susceptible to cold stress, especially if staff will be working on sites with muddy ground or poor roads. Winter work boots should be large enough to accommodate either at least two pairs or thin socks, or one pair of thick ones, so it may be a good idea to order a size up. 
 
Improve visibility 
Low-light conditions are a perennial problem for the construction industry, especially in winter. So, you’ll need to have on-site work lights which are bright enough to ensure that workers can see what they’re doing during high-risk jobs. If your site is very sprawling, you may want to install mast-mounted lighting, which will illuminate a larger area more effectively. Any vehicles or mobile equipment should also be fitted with additional warning lights, as this will help to prevent collisions and encourage your workers to be aware of them as they move around the site. 
It may also be a good idea to consider your working hours: could you start work earlier or finish later in order to make the most of daylight hours? Or can certain dangerous jobs be carried out during the lightest part of the day? Not only is this often a simpler solution, but your workers will be more alert at these times, too. 
 
Minimise the risk of a fall 
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires employers to take appropriate measures to help prevent slips and trips, both of which are more likely to occur during tough conditions. There are several ways to do this, the most important of which is to provide the right sort of footwear for both the weather and the work being performed. 
Naturally, construction workers will need protective boots that protect their feet from falling debris or other hazards, but they should also be warm enough to spend a full working day outdoors. For very icy conditions, winter boot attachments — which provide added traction and grip on the sole — may be a good idea. 
While the right footwear is a good start, you’ll also need to treat walkways, roads, pathways, loading areas, and access points with grit to stop them from freezing over. Hand rails and guardrails are a must on all raised areas and ramps where a fall from height is a possibility. 
 
Boost morale with good facilities 
As any good HR manager will tell you, promoting employee safety isn’t just about their physical health: their mental wellbeing matters, too. Having a warm employee breakroom where they can rest, socialise, and grab a hot drink can make a big difference to staff morale, especially during freezing winter weather. So, if you haven’t already, now is a great time to review your employee breakroom and other facilities and make sure they’re fully equipped for the months ahead. 
Your staff breakroom should provide adequate shelter from the worst that the British weather can throw at you, and there should be adequate heating: you may want to consider space heaters if you usually work on site. It’s also a good idea to consult your staff on whether there’s anything else they’d like to have in their break room (within reason, of course!). 
 
 
No-one relishes the prospect of the long dark winter ahead, least of all those who work in construction. But, as long as you create a plan to protect your staff, provide workers with PPE that’s appropriate for the weather, and take measures to boost morale, you should be able to make sure it doesn’t have a disproportionate effect on your business. 
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