Over the past few weeks we have seen lots of requests for advice where an employer is struggling to accommodate requests from their staff for time off at Eid. Many of these concerns are from Pre-school Leaders who have all of their annual leave fixed for in school holidays, and Eid falls in term time.
In this blog we hope to explain what an employer needs to understand when handling requests for time off at Eid.
What is the Eid festival?
Eid is an celebration for Muslims. There are no bank holidays given for Eid in the UK so employees are likely to ask for time off to observe these festivals. But the dates of Islamic events such as Eid are not known until shortly beforehand, because a verified moon sighting is needed to declare the start of any given month.
All this means employers are likely to receive last-minute requests for annual leave.
What is the employment law around Eid holidays?
Dates of the Eid festivals are not confirmed until a few days before, so employers often find that requests for time off are made at short notice. This can create a tricky situation for businesses trying to plan staff rotas and in particular for Early Years and Childcare where ratios must be maintained in order for the doors to be opened.
Eid ul Fitr takes place at the start of a month, just a day or two after the date is confirmed by a moon sighting. There is a little more notice for Eid ul Adha, which is on the 10th day of a month so the date is known 10 days ahead of the festival taking place.
Managing requests in your term time only pre-school
Given it’s significance it is quite possible that term time only employers will receive requests for authorised absence for those who wish to observe this festival. You should deal with such requests as you would any request for authorised unpaid absence. If you fix all annual leave, as is the case for term time only employees, the employee will be requesting unpaid authorised absence. Always act reasonably and fairly, following the normal system to determine whether the request can be approved.
Managing requests in a Day Nursery or all year round setting
Where your staff can book annual leave, you need to be consistent and apply the same rules for all staff. The Working Time Regulations 1998 states that employees have to give a notice period of double the length of their holiday to their employer to request holiday i.e. six days’ notice for three days’ leave. Employers can also extend this notice period through their contractual holiday policy and it is not uncommon to see clauses in contracts of employment requiring 4 weeks’ notice for annual leave requests. Without the correct notice, the employer doesn’t have to consider the request. Most settings operate a policy where only a certain number of staff can be absent on annual leave at any one time in order to maintain ratios.
Where an employer can, they should see if they can accomodate the request however if the request cannot be accommodated, because of the needs of the business then the holiday request, or request for authorised unpaid absence can refused but the employer does need to be consistent and fair in its approach.
Do contact us if you have any questions about how to handle requests, 01527 909436.