Unlimited holiday: the employer’s view

Cardiff accountancy firm EST Accountants and Tax Advisers has introduced an unlimited holiday policy for its employees. Director Barry Esterhuizen explains why he is allowing his employees to take as much holiday as they want, whenever they want.

Director of EST Accountants, Barry EsterhuizenI wanted everyone in my team to be able to take time off when they felt they needed it. It gives the team the freedom to plan their work and time without the constraints of limited leave. Not being able to take leave when needed can be a source of anxiety, and it may actually result in a scramble for time off; such as when people keep holidays back  as a  precautionary measure only to then have to try and use them all by the end of the year so they are not lost.

I don’t want an environment where everyone works to the clock because that encourages a regimented ethos that can have a negative impact on morale. I hope that unlimited leave will make my business an attractive place to work and help with staff retention.

The system is very flexible and does away with the need for forms and unnecessary admin. Any leave is discussed among the team and any pressing work is designated to another member of staff. Odd days are easily arranged, we simply ask for at least two weeks’ notice if someone wishes to take more than a week’s leave.

Unlimited holidays work particularly well for parents with young families – I have two young boys and it’s a huge help having flexibility. Whatever a company’s leave policy, there are always going to be times where key staff members are away, so having an unlimited policy means staff members have to be aware of schedules and work together to ensure work is completed or covered.

For an unlimited holiday scheme to be successful, team members need to be highly self-motivated and have a clear understanding of the business’ goals and the link between their work and achieving those goals.

At EST the policy has been well received by all; we work very closely together so I don’t anticipate any problems as our team grows bigger.

There are of course issues to consider when implementing an unlimited holiday policy. Consideration needs to be given as to whether authorisation is needed before any holiday can be taken and whether holiday will be tracked. The Working Time Regulations require employers to permit staff to take a minimum of 28 days, including public holidays, and if holidays are not recorded it may prove difficult for an employer to evidence that staff take their statutory holiday entitlement.

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