As the August bank holiday weekend approaches, the Friday preceding the long weekend (tomorrow) has emerged as the most sought-after day for annual leave, with nearly one in five employees (18%) opting to take the day off, according to statistics from BrightHR.
This trend, which has persisted for the past seven years, highlights the significance of the day for employees looking to extend their leisure time.
The data further reveals a noteworthy surge in leave requests for the aforementioned Friday, indicating a 22 percent increase from the beginning of the month to just one week before the bank holiday.
This rise suggests that many employees are procrastinating their leave requests until the last minute, a behaviour dubbed “last-minute Larrys.”
While workers strive to make the most of the extended weekend, employers are being encouraged to accommodate these holiday requests wherever possible.
However, certain industries such as retail, tourism, hospitality, and healthcare may face challenges in granting all leave requests due to high demand during these peak periods.
Alan Price, CEO of BrightHR, emphasised the importance of a balanced approach to managing employee leave during these times:
“Annual leave is crucial for maintaining a healthy and motivated workforce, while also preventing burnout. Yet, in sectors prone to increased activity, businesses may find it difficult to approve all leave requests. The predicament intensifies when multiple employees submit requests simultaneously, leaving enterprises vulnerable to understaffing.”
Price highlighted the potential pitfalls of subjective decision-making in leave approvals, particularly the misconception that employees with children should be given priority. He emphasised the necessity of having a well-defined annual leave policy that outlines the process for requesting time off and the criteria for approval.
Annual leave: first come, first served
Various approaches exist for managing leave requests, including the “first come, first served” model or considering employees who have not taken time off recently. Additionally, some companies set a maximum cap on concurrent absences and establish specific submission deadlines.
“By clearly communicating this policy to the workforce and ensuring a fair and transparent process, businesses can significantly reduce the risk of last-minute disruptions to schedules and prevent any sense of discrimination arising from declined requests,” Price added.
To aid managers in maintaining optimal staffing levels during busy periods like the August bank holiday and Christmas, absence management systems and holiday planners can be immensely valuable. These tools allow employers to swiftly view their team’s absences, detect potential clashes, and preemptively address any scheduling conflicts before they escalate.
As the Friday prior to the August bank holiday draws near, the surge in annual leave requests underscores the importance of well-structured leave management practices. Businesses that effectively balance employee leisure with operational needs are poised to navigate the holiday period with efficiency and workforce satisfaction.
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.