All work and no play does not make for a happy life. Therefore we think it’s incredibly important to balance out the time and dedication that our employees put into Wholegrain, with taking time out and fully utilising your holiday entitlement.  

This policy applies to all employees of Wholegrain. It does not form part of your contract of employment and may be amended from time to time. It includes information regarding holiday entitlement, as well the process that you need to undertake in order to organise and request your holidays.   

Any, and all, personal data used in conjunction with this policy shall be collected, held, and processed in accordance with our ‘Data Protection Policy.’

Holiday entitlement

Our holiday year runs from 1st April until 31st March and all full-time employees (those working 40 hours a week) are entitled to a total of 36 days of holidays per holiday year.  This is broken down into 8 bank holidays and 28 days of annual leave. Annual leave includes 1 day off on the occasion of your birthday and 5 days of annual leave that needs to be reserved for when we close over the festive period. This entitlement is pro-rated for part-time employees as well as those employees who join part way through the holiday year.

If you change your contracted working hours, we’ll recalculate your leave entitlement accordingly. Part-time employees who increase their hours on a temporary basis for a period of one calendar month or more will accrue additional holiday time.

Holiday Rules

Please don’t make a habit of not taking your leave. For a start, we don’t pay for any holiday you haven’t taken (unless it’s at the end of your employment with us). But more importantly, we believe it’s super important to take time away from work to avoid stress and burnout, and recharge your batteries. And a happy, healthy team is one of our main goals.

We do however, have a few rules we need you to note:

  • All holiday must be approved in advance and we appreciate as much notice as possible. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, we need double the amount of time in notice that you’d like to take off. So if you want one week off, please give us a minimum of 10 working days’ notice.
  • The minimum period you can request is half a day. Because we operate a flexible working policy, if you need to take time for an appointment or if something unexpected crops up, these don’t count as holiday. Just keep Slack and your line manager updated so we know where and when to find you.
  • The maximum holiday period is two weeks, unless there are exceptional circumstances. If you want more than two weeks off, this must be authorised in writing by the Managing Director.
  • If you run out of holiday and need more time, this is fine. You can take a maximum of five unpaid days with written permission from the Managing Director.
  • All holiday pay will be calculated based on contracted hours only at your standard rate of pay and will be subject to PAYE.

Bank Holidays

There are normally eight bank holidays each year. Some of the dates vary from year to year, but as a general guide these are:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Monday
  • Early May Bank Holiday
  • Spring Bank Holiday
  • Late Summer Bank Holiday
  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing Day

We’ll confirm the exact dates of the bank holidays at the beginning of each year.

We reserve the right to deduct your bank holiday payment if you’re absent from work (other than on Wholegrain business or agreed in writing by us) the day immediately before or after the bank holiday.

If you’re required to work on a bank holiday, you’ll receive your usual rate of pay and can take your bank holiday entitlement at another time. Any bank holidays in lieu must be taken within the holiday year in which they are accrued.

Festive season closure

We close Wholegrain for 5 working days over the festive period for a well-earned rest after what is normally a busy end of year.  At the beginning of each year we will advise you of the dates during this period that we intend to close. If you are full-time you will need to reserve 5 days of holiday leave each year to cover the closure. If you are part-time, we will calculate with you what you need to reserve from your holiday entitlement for the closure.  During the closure we will need to operate an emergency on-call system, just in case any of our clients require our immediate support. Details of this rota will be discussed following communication of the dates of closure. Any working time used whilst on-call during this closed period may be taken as time off in lieu on your return to work after the festive period.

Birthday Leave

To celebrate your special day, all employees can take their birthday off as holiday. Please request this time off in the same way that you would other holiday leave. Should your birthday fall on a weekend, bank holiday or other day off then you will get the nearest working day off in lieu instead.

Popular Holiday Times

Certain times of the year, such as Easter and school holidays, are naturally more popular when it comes to taking holiday. If you want time off over these periods, please get your requests in early! We’ll do our best to ensure leave is allocated fairly.

Leaving Wholegrain and Holiday

If you leave Wholegrain part way through the holiday year, you may be asked to use any accrued but unused holiday during your notice period. Alternatively, we will pay you in lieu of accrued but unused holiday up to your last day of employment with us.

If you’ve taken more than your pro-rated holiday entitlement by the time you leave, this will either be deducted from your final pay or in the event that does not cover the cost, then we’ll ask you to reimburse us for the remainder of it.

Unauthorised Holiday

If you take holiday without seeking prior authorisation, this will be considered as unauthorised absence and your pay will be deducted accordingly. Depending on the circumstances it may also be investigated under our disciplinary procedures.

Cancelling Holiday

In the event that you need to cancel your holiday, please let us know with as much warning as possible by speaking directly to your Line Manager. If cancelled less than a week prior to the date your holiday was due to commence, we cannot guarantee that you will be able to add the time back to your holiday allowance. A decision on this will be made by the Managing Director at the point of cancellation.

In the event that you are sick either prior to, or whilst on holiday, then please contact your Line Manager on the first day of your sickness so that your holiday, or the remainder of your holiday, may be postponed or rearranged.  Please refer to the ‘Sickness and Return to Work’ policy for further information relating to sickness and holiday leave, which includes important notification requirements that all employees are required to follow in order to enable holiday leave to be altered.  

How to arrange and request your holiday

We appreciate autonomy and individual ownership in our team. Therefore, it’s good for everyone to participate in the decision-making of their own holidays. It is not just a simple request you submit when you want to arrange holiday. You will actually be the one who leads the approval process of your holiday request and arranges cover for your work and schedule.

A step-by-step guide for arranging and requesting your holiday period

Once you decide which day/s you are planning to take as a holiday, please follow the steps below:

  1. Confirming dates:

    Check your schedule on the day/the days you wish to take as holiday.
  2. Checking schedules and workload, confirm with your cover(s):
  • Check your teammate’s schedule on the intended day/s of holiday. This can be one person or more who you are planning to ask to cover for you.
  • If your schedule for the planned dates is neither full nor empty, and your potential cover teammate has time to cover for you on the intended day/s of holiday, please confirm this with them.
  • Please Note: It is good to remember that your teammate has their own schedule to manage and work to complete. You want to leave them with a sensible and achievable workload during your holiday, in spite of them covering for you. Before you go away on holiday, complete most of your tasks so your teammate is mostly having to only pick up bits and bobs that you couldn’t get to before you go away.
  1. Placing holiday request:

    You can now request your holiday on our HR system (Bamboo HR), including details of your workload, any client deadlines that fall in your requested holiday dates and who could cover you.
  1. Confirming your leave request:

    Following your holiday being requested in our HR system (Bamboo HR), your Line Manager will be automatically notified by the system of your request. Once approved, your Line Manager will tag you in the ‘Leave Request Channel’ on Slack, letting you know that it has been approved. If the holiday is not confirmed by your Line Manager, you will be invited to a call to explain why and explore any potential solutions.
  1. Your handover:

    You’re all set to create your handover the week before the first day of your holiday.

Please Note: Handover is the key to making sure that your holiday is managed smoothly and effectively. It is unpleasant to be contacted from work while you are on holiday. So to make sure you can enjoy your holiday and your cover(s) can handle your work well, a clear and organised handover is a must. It is essential to arrange a handover meeting with your cover(s) to go through your handover document together.

The situations where holiday will not be approved

  • It might be difficult to find suitable cover when other team members are on holiday on the days you are planning to take off;
  • Your schedules are full with pre-planned work. It is unfair to put this workload on your team member who is covering for you, and we think they will be not able to handle it;
  • There may be an event, or meeting, or a task/deadline on the day/days you are planning to be off and we require you to be present, or can only be done/met by you.

Please note: Everyone has the right to enjoy their holiday. We recommend everyone to take some time off. However, during busy periods, it requires more planning and organising. Short notice is always going to be challenging for both sides. Plan your holiday in advance, and this will make it much easier to arrange for suitable team members to cover for you and this will lead to a smooth handover.

Where can it go wrong?

Like most of this policy and guidance, in theory it works perfectly, yet in real life sometimes things do go wrong.  Here is a list of possible reasons where it can go wrong when you approve your holidays:

  • You assume a suitable team member(s) is available to cover for you without confirming with him/her/them;
  • You have not created a handover document or your handover document is not comprehensive;
  • There is too much work in your handover that is beyond the capacity of your cover(s);
  • There are missing tasks and/or information in your handover.

What would happen if it did go wrong?

When something goes wrong during your holiday time, unless it is important and urgent, we will not interrupt your holiday time. Normally we would like to address this on the first day of your return. It is not to blame or point fingers, but we will invite you and/or your cover(s) to a meeting and find out which part went wrong and how we can solve/fix it together.

It is vital that we all understand in order to make sure everyone can enjoy their holiday, as a team we need to collaborate and communicate. We need to appreciate our teammates who cover for us and aim to make sure that this period is as simplified as possible. It is also crucial to fully own your work and take responsibility to arrange the alternative for your tasks and projects to be taken care of. If you have done everything in the check box, you will be able to enjoy your holiday fully, as you will not be worrying about work while you are away.

What about TOIL and emergency time off?

We do not in any way recommend working extra time, it takes a toll on our work-life balance. We believe the best way to increase productivity is through improved efficiency, not additional working time. But sometimes you may find yourself working a bit late to finish your tasks or something urgent comes up at the last minute and needs to be dealt with immediately. In this case, you will need to inform your Line Manager first to discuss the situation and to agree if the time worked will be subject to TOIL.

Please note, TOIL needs to be arranged and discussed beforehand. If you are working additional hours without it being discussed with your Line Manager, you may not get the time back as TOIL. If you need to work additional hours regularly, for example more than twice a month, we will invite you for a meeting to discuss your capacity and workload, and help you to avoid working additional time and maintain a well-functioning work-life balance.

For emergency time off, it is understandable that sometimes we have something urgent come up and we need to attend to it immediately. For situation(s) like this, we will have a quick chat to estimate the situation and to understand how much time you need and how that time will be taken (ie. holiday, TOIL, unpaid leave etc). This time will be logged in our HR system (Bamboo HR) by your Line Manager following your initial conversation and updated when you return to work if needed.