Tracking staff availability & holiday allowances

Jamie Harvey

Jamie Harvey


Do your staff work the classic Mon – Fri, 9-5?  Many of our clients’ staff don’t. They have a variety of different shift patterns so keeping track of who’s available to work on any given day can be a headache.

On top of this, in summer, many people’s weekly patterns and commitments will change, e.g. university students can offer more hours. Furthermore, with increased holiday requests between June – September, keeping track of the availability of your workforce, their holiday allowances and ensuring you don’t become short-staffed can be tricky to stay on top of.

Rotaready’s self-service availability and absence management tools are perfectly suited to the job, giving your staff as much flexibility as you can afford them whilst reassuring you that you won’t be suddenly short-staffed.

Availability patterns

We see a range of working patterns across our client base…

  1. Week-based patterns / rolling rotas:  the entire team work on a repeating pattern, with different shifts in each week. We often see these structures in place when there’s a need to share out undesirable hours fairly and/or weekend work, such as in healthcare
  2. Non week-based patterns: where the pattern doesn’t repeat over a typical week, for example, “4 on, 4 off”. This is common when there’s consistent demand, typically over 24 hours (e.g. factories or the police force)
  3. No patterns: Ben is flexible and can be given work on any day of the week. He doesn’t know what his days off will be for a week until the rota is published. This is common in retail and hospitality, where demand can vary across weeks and there’s a high turnover of staff
  4. Bespoke patterns: Amy can’t work Wednesdays and every other Saturday. This is particularly common with small teams or those that have a high proportion of part-timers or younger staff
  5. Mon – Fri, 9-5: we typically only see this in head offices, or with our clients who use our time & attendance monitoring to track time-off-in-lieu (“TOIL”) balances

Keeping Rotaready applicable to all industries is a key principle for us, so we have an awesomely flexible way to cater for all the above setups…

  1. Each user can have their own individual pattern
  2. Patterns can repeat over a number of days, weeks, or months. This means we can support scenarios as varied as “5 on, 5 off”, or an 8-week rolling rota, or a rule that requires the user to be unavailable on the last Friday every quarter.
  3. Patterns have a set start date, can have an end date and can be paused (perfect for those whose availability may change seasonally, like university students)
  4. One-off exceptions are added with a click (e.g. although Claire doesn’t typically work weekends, as it happens, this coming Saturday she is available)
  5. Self service for all staff (depending on permission levels, staff can be permitted to amend their own availability patterns and add exceptions)

The beauty of this is that once an availability pattern has been set up (which takes seconds), you’ll never need to worry about it again, meaning:

  • staff can see when their days off will be far in the future
  • you’ll know on any day in the future who’ll be working
  • automatically generated rotas will know who’s free
  • validation checks when editing rotas prevent you from accidentally resourcing someone on their day off
  • holiday allowances: when a member of staff requests time off, Rotaready instantly calculates how many of these days are working days

Absence management & holiday allowances

Of course, there’s another side to availability – the one-off holiday requests, training events, sick days and so on. In Rotaready we call this ‘absence’, and there’s a number of great tools to help you track with ease.

Firstly, your list of absence types is completely customisable, even allowing you to specify whether each type is considered payable. This makes timesheets and cost control that much more accurate.

Holiday distribution

The summer season (June-September) accounts for more than half (51.9%) of the total number of tourism nights spent by EU residents during the whole year

Tracking holiday is inevitably more involved. According to this European Commission study, over half of tourism nights spent by EU residents happens between June – September. Meaning that over these summer months, it’s especially important to ensure you plan your workforce carefully.

Rotaready’s perfect for managing holiday allowances, and we have several different types. One type of allowance which is particularly popular with our clients in hospitality is ‘holiday accrual’, whereby a worker will earn holiday in line with the hours they work. This draws in sanitised attendance data, and credits them each week with the amount of holiday they earned over the last seven days.

Holiday balances are shown to all staff, giving them more visibility than they are ever likely to have had before. In fact, everyone can log into their own accounts and raise absence requests. When a manager reviews a request, they’ll see any message the staff member may have left, along with a view of how the request sits in the worker’s schedule, whether there are any overlapping shifts, and if there’s any concurrent absence, all of which might influence the decision on whether to approve the request. As soon as the manager approves or rejects, the staff member receives a text message, alerting them to the update.

All approved absence is shown in one amalgamated calendar, giving you an instant check to confirm you don’t have too many staff off at the same time.

Does your organisation face similar challenges with planning around staff absence over summer? What availability patterns do your staff work on? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

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