Dare we say it, but the countdown to Christmas is well and truly on!

The shops are well stocked with their Christmas displays and you even may be forgiven for thinking Christmas was already here! But nonetheless, it’s definitely time to start planning your Christmas cover, before you end up with a major headache (and not the festive hungover kind!)

Lay down the ground rules

Christmas parties, catching up with friends and family over festive drinks, Christmas markets or over indulging on turkey and mulled wine – there are lots of reasons why people are more likely to pull a ‘sickie’ at Christmas than any other time of year.

To help avoid this, set out your expectations early; mid-November is a good time. Remind staff there is potential for disciplinary action for any unapproved sick leave.

Be prepared to take action

If you suspect a staff member is taking unauthorised leave, you are within your rights to schedule a ‘return to work’ interview or ask for medical evidence, before allowing them to resume their duties.

This should also act as a timely deterrent for any other staff members who may be considering doing the same.

Sort holiday cover early

If your office closes over Christmas, then arranging cover will not be an issue, but if it’s not, outline the minimum staff needed and arrange rotas and working patterns early, to meet your requirements.

Try and rotate your Christmas cover – so it doesn’t always land on the same people every year – unless you have staff who prefer to work over Christmas, then that’s sorted!

There may be periods when you require everyone to work, so managing your leave effectively and setting blackout periods where it’s not possible to book leave, will keep this straightforward and conflict free.

Be inclusive

Make the office an inclusive, enjoyable place to work, so people are less likely to want to take unrequested time off. You may find perks like Christmas treats, a box of Quality Streets or Secret Santa, will keep people wanting to come in. Or if budgets will allow, you may want to offer a monetary incentive for working over Christmas – time and a half for instance.

How LeavePlanner can help

Take the stress out of managing leave

LeavePlanner makes it easy to manage annual leave and log absences, so businesses can monitor and maintain the correct staffing levels, as well as investigate unauthorised absences and take any necessary disciplinary action.

Set blackout periods

Administrators can use the software to specify employees’ working patterns, working hours and rotas, including setting blackout periods where no staff are able to book holidays, to keep business running smoothly over the festive period.

For a free 30-day trial, call Steve on 01252 636 070 or email support@leaveplanner.com.

For any queries, call Steve on 01252 636 070 or email support@leaveplanner.com