Common sense at last

Certainty, transparency and practicality; these are the straplines of the Holidays Act Taskforce’s Report on its review of the Holidays Act 2003.

Having read, and re-read parts of the Taskforce’s Report (for certainty) I was actually pleased that it has achieved what it set out to accomplish.

We have released a separate, more detailed update, on the finer detail of the Report, which you can read here.

I was particularly relieved to learn that the Taskforce had tested different options before finalising its recommendations. For example, whilst I was initially surprised to learn that we will likely be sticking with annual leave entitlements in weeks (my thinking was that accruing by each hour worked may have been simpler), the Taskforce’s explanation that some employees would be worse off if this method was adopted was enough to satisfy me that they’ve done their homework.

Overall, the Taskforce’s recommendations make sense and capture the modern way of working/life; recognising that the workforce doesn’t just work fixed hours on fixed days and that our caring responsibilities often extend beyond the nuclear family.

In particular, removing the ‘parental leave override’, and thereby ending discrimination against employees who take parental leave when they return to work, makes perfect sense and is long overdue, as does removing the 6 month stand down period before employees are eligible for bereavement and family violence leave. Allowing employees to take some sick leave from day one recognises the reality of working life.

The Taskforce’s recommendation that employers use a much more prescriptive test for determining what constitutes an Otherwise Working Day is common sense, albeit slightly more generous than I had anticipated; with employees only needing to have worked 50% of the corresponding day over 4 or 13 weeks for it to be considered an Otherwise Working Day. Simplifying the definition of gross earnings to cover all payments received, except reimbursement for costs, should remove any ambiguity.

There is a bit to go yet before these recommendations become law, with legislation to implement any changes anticipated in early 2022. For the time being it is good to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that we will hopefully have a regime that is easy for all to use.

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