Ryanair’s failure to plan for pilot holidays is a warning to employers on the risks of effectively managing staff leave, according to a leading HR specialist.
Poor holiday management that directly impinges on an organisation’s operations could spell disaster for any business, says Breda Scott of Northern Ireland-based human resources and employment law specialists HR Team.
“If the right system for managing leave is not in place, the knock on effect can often impact directly on customers or clients and that can be a disaster for any organisation, regardless of size or scale,” she said.
Her comments come after airline Ryanair cancelled more than 80 flights on Sunday after admitting it had “messed up” the planning of its pilots’ holidays.
Ryanair said a change to its holiday year - from April to March, to January to December - meant the company had to now allocate annual leave to pilots.
Around 50 flights a day have been cancelled over next six weeks and more than 200,000 passengers could be affected by flight cancellations.
Ms Scott continued: “Perhaps staff were not aware of the change to the holiday year or there was a delay in approval of leave but regardless, a backlog of leave is not good for any organisation - especially when it has such a devastating impact on customers.
“This puts into sharp focus the need for organisations to work effectively to minimise the risk associated with ineffective leave management.
“No matter what the size of the business, policy and procedure need to be in place to avoid a situation where too many members of staff need to take leave simultaneously.
“Effective leave management will avoid a bottleneck at the end of year.”
She said clear leave policy and procedure needs to be in place.
“Companies need a concise and easy to understand holiday policy, one that is put in writing and is communicated to and understood by staff.
“Similarly a process to allow whomever is responsible for managing leave requests, can easily identify when a problem may occur.
“An organisation’s policy may dictate that only two or three members of staff are on leave at any one time, certainly no more than would affect the organisation's operations - and it should be implemented consistently and fairly,” she said.