Should you allow employees extra time off to  get married?

Should employees get time off for tying the knot?

Weddings are a hot topic of conversation right now. The dust is just settling on the royal celebrations and of course, thousands of couples are expected to say ‘I do’ over the coming months, as we head towards the peak season for exchanging vows. But as an employer, what do you need to know? And are you expected to grant time off for celebrations?

It’s wise to know exactly where you stand with these matters, so you can be prepared for the conversations that you’re almost inevitably going to have with your employees over the summer months.

First of all, let’s consider the legislation. Before making any decisions about your people practices, it makes sense to look at what the law dictates and what’s expected of you. Currently, the law in the UK doesn’t require you to grant staff time off because they’re getting married.

Interestingly, this is in contrast to some other countries in the EU. In Spain for example, workers are entitled to 15 days off when they’re getting hitched. Here though, it’s acceptable to require your employees to take any necessary time off – for planning, the wedding itself, or a honeymoon – out of their annual leave allowance. So strictly speaking, you’re under zero obligation to make any special or additional considerations for staff who are planning a wedding.

Though, this doesn’t mean that you won’t want to create additional provisions. You may decide that as a gesture of goodwill, you’ll allow your staff to take extra time off for their celebrations, either paid or unpaid. As is almost always the case, this shouldn’t be managed on a case-by-case basis. This creates too much uncertainty and it could also potentially cause problems if you don’t treat all members of staff the same, even if that isn’t your intention.

If you are thinking about adding some more generous arrangements, then it’s very wise to build this into your policies and procedures and it’s something that you should consider adding to your employee handbook and contracts of employment.

If you don’t already have an annual leave policy in place – or you suspect that it might not be fit for purpose – then you’re definitely not alone. It’s often one of those things that you don’t realise the importance of until you’re faced with a tricky situation. But having a robust policy that you build your everyday practices around can help to ensure that things run smoothly, and that you’re very rarely faced with an employee query that you can’t confidently handle.

If you know that your policies need an overhaul, get in touch today to arrange your no-obligation consultation. We can answer any questions that you might have and explain more about how we can work together to take away your HR headaches.