Unexpected leave – then what?

March 19th, 2015

There’s that section in the staff handbook entitled “Leave and absence” or something similar, which tells staff how to book holiday, who authorises what and how far in advance. There might be a section about other leave, such as telling your line manager if you are called for jury service or who to phone if you are feeling ill.

When we talk about managing leave, that is usually the processes that we are concerned about. There are other related processes, such as “return to work” meetings, after someone has been off ill or guidance for line managers if staff are not taking all their holiday entitlement, or managing the person who is sick every other Monday.

That’s normally where leave management starts and ends.

What happens, though, to the work normally done by the person who is away? In many organisations, there are people who are “expert” or “super user” for some key areas. In smaller organisations and departments, there will frequently be one person who “does everything” and that works fine most of the time and people book holiday around their normal work patterns. I’ve had conversations with the person running the payroll or paying bills at the end of the month who always books their holidays for the middle of the month.

For many people, their work pattern is less predictable or on a daily or weekly cycle, rather than a monthly one. There needs to be cover when they are away. This time of the year, how many people have been away on winter sports holidays and returned with an injury, which stops them working? Their one or two weeks holiday turns into a month’s sick leave. Or the senior person’s long-distance 3 week holiday has been delayed, return flights are twice a week, so they are going to miss another 3 or 4 days at work. what happens then?

  • Who knows what needs to be done in their absence?
  • Who has authority to access others’ systems?
  • Are there sufficient notes on what has to be done, to guide other user/s?
  • If someone makes a mistake, is there guidance as to how to correct things and find and use a backup?

If you are not absolutely sure of the answers to these questions and need help in documenting the expert users’ information, not just to manage processes while others are away, also to spread the workload as departments grow and train new users, get in touch. We may be able to help. Sue Cohen Developing the BEST businesses

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