12th October 2022
Annual Leave Planning Within Deliveries (And Linked Documents)
April 2023 to March 2024
Since 2014, Royal Mail and the CWU have had in place a National Joint Statement designed to assist both representatives and managers within deliveries when discussing and concluding their annual leave planning and arrangements, with the annual leave planning due to be concluded by the end of October in line with the Way Forward Agreement.
Also in line with this, the Outdoor Department has been seeking to secure a refreshed National Joint Statement for 2023-24 annual leave arrangements. Disappointingly, but maybe not surprisingly, given the current wider industrial relations climate and Royal Mail’s behaviour towards our members, the union and our national agreements, to date, we have had no formal reply from them on this matter.
As such, and for those who have not already started planning and/or are in the process of planning their annual leave, and given the need for units to move forward and for Royal Mail to fulfill their contractual annual leave obligations, we are now re-issuing last year’s National Joint Statement and linked documents which were circulated to Branches and Representatives in Letter To Branches (LTB 387/21), issued on 13th of September. Whilst some of the terms of this Joint Statement are a little dated and do not reflect the current timelines availability, and would have clearly needed to have been reviewed as part of any revised Joint Statement for 2023/2024, it nonetheless sets out the key process to be adopted for annual leave planning in Delivery Units and still hold the field in this regard.
In particular, Branches and Representatives are reminded of the following key sections and aspects of annual leave planning/arrangements and which have been in place and agreed upon with Royal Mail for the past number of years:
Local Managers and CWU Reps will work together in a constructive manner (where this is possible), in line with our Joint Statement and National Agreements to establish their annual leave arrangements. Local Managers and CWU Reps will use the national annual leave Calendarisation Work-Aid in order to assist them to determine and agree the number of annual leave slots available for selection each week. This work-aid has been developed by Royal Mail to help managers and Reps to jointly make the decision on how best to fairly share out the total annual leave slots for their office against a national workload profile.
The Calendarisation Work-Aid was subject to a former national joint review in 2019 and the ‘guidelines/information tab’ was updated to give managers and representatives a clear understanding on how to use this work-aid in a way that supports the processes and agreements we have that established annual leave entitlement. The Calendarisation Work-Aid is to serve as a guide only and should therefore be used accordingly.
Once the unit plan is agreed, these local office annual leave arrangements will be shared with frontline colleagues, so they can choose their holiday weeks and allocation of leave completed normally by the end of October, in line with section 4 of the Way Forward Agreement.
However, given the current industrial relations climate and wider delay, planning can be extended into the first few weeks of November where agreed locally.
The aim is to ensure that everyone takes a positive approach to this initiative which is about ensuring annual leave plans are transparent, robust, provide greater fairness and opportunity in the allocation of annual leave, whether that is weeks, days, or the chance to use up outstanding leave in line with the approach of accurate alignment of resource to workload, in an efficient manner whilst also ensuring that quality of service is maintained.
Local annual leave plans for April 2023 to March 2024, should include all leave due in the leave year period, including purchased leave and any carried over/outstanding leave from the previous year/s.
All annual leave plans for 2023/24 will need to be completed for each office by October/November 2022.
To jointly produce an annual leave plan taking into account seasonal workload variations, utilising all available hours including overtime, that accurately aligns the leave opportunities in an efficient, fair and manageable way based on local factors and knowledge and in line with the current National Agreements.
Weekly Resourcing Meeting(s) should now include sufficient prescheduled time to discuss and agree the annual leave plan for the forthcoming year which will set out the annual leave allocation for the office.
Following an agreement on the local office annual leave arrangements this will then be shared with frontline colleagues so they can choose their holiday weeks by October/November in line with section 4 of the Way Forward Agreement. The aim is to ensure that all local plans are agreed and concluded by the end of October/within the first few weeks of November. When complete, all leave for 2023/24 should be booked into PSP.
To provide additional annual leave opportunities in periods when workload is below model week, including the opportunity to ‘burn off’ any outstanding or carried over leave. Units will plan on the full year’s allocation of leave including Bank Holiday credits and purchased leave.
To provide an opportunity and a way for people to take midweek to midweek leave and odd days of leave taking into account special and religious events.
To look to reserve a level of leave slots where possible to account for the need for short notice/Ad Hoc leave requests during the leave year.
To ensure that all employees annual leave will be included on an equal basis, whether full or part time.
Whilst the aim is to ensure that all annual leave is planned for and taken in the year it is due, up to one week, a maximum of 5 days (or contractual equivalent for PT employees) can be carried over into the next leave year where it is requested by the individual employee in line with the Royal Mail Policy. Additionally, some employees may also have specific holiday/events planned that would require more than one week/5 days (or contractual PT equivalent) annual leave to be carried over into the following year in exceptional circumstances. In these situations, the arrangements as outlined within the Way Forward Agreement will apply and leave carried over will need to be authorised by their line manager.
The Annual leave plans will not be based on any predetermined lapsing/absorption plans, however all annual leave plans must be built in an efficient, fair and manageable way making full use of all available work hours.
Vacancies and leave reserve vacancies will remain under constant review to ensure adequate resource is available to meet the customer, the annual leave plan and operational requirement. Units must ensure the appropriate recruitment requests, where required, are submitted in time to facilitate this, identifying locally the number of foreseen vacancies in the coming months using current national agreements, joint statements and guidelines on resourcing issues.
Additionally, and as with previous year’s arrangements, further attention is drawn to Branches regarding the following:
The focus is on concluding a robust and reliable Annual Leave Plan/Agreement that includes all individuals’ legally contractual leave entitlements, as its primary driver, whilst also identifying extra leave slots in low traffic periods over and above those agreed to facilitate the taking of additional leave and therefore maximising choice of leave slots for individuals.
The existing National agreements, guidelines, agreed tools, procedures and processes are in place to support resourcing on an ongoing basis and are not affected. They remain firmly in place and will in fact be used to support the process and assist in providing a balanced approach to year-round leave allocation and resourcing.
Managers and Reps will also need to establish the total number of owed weeks above the leave year’s contractual entitlement, which will need to be documented in your agreements and arrangements agreed locally and put in place to deal with it.
It is essential when entering discussions that CWU representatives establish and allocate the unit’s contractual entitlement first which will in turn identify the number of leave reserves required to enable reliable resourcing.
‘Vacancies and leave reserve vacancies should remain under constant review to ensure adequate resource is available to meet customer, the annual leave plan and operational requirement’.
When establishing leave demand, this needs to include all staff contractual leave, Bank Holiday credits for annual leave that coincides with Bank Holidays and rest days that fall on a Bank Holiday, purchased leave, and any leave days carried over from the previous year. Your relevant manager should have this information in their Manpower Plan (and recorded on the PSP) and you should check this information to ensure all ‘contractual’ and ‘carried over’ leave has been captured.
The number of weeks can be checked through this calculation below and should be cross-referenced with the number of leave weeks in PSP and that are in the Annual Leave Calenderisation Work Aide and the relevant adjustments made.
If the above added up to 600 weeks to be allocated and covered and 2 weeks were closed for Christmas Pressure the number of leave reserves to cover AWD would be 12, (600 divided-by 50) = 12. Add to this the leave reserves leave 12 @ 5 weeks = 60 weeks would mean another leave reserve (60 divided-by 50) = 1.2.
In this example, that would mean that a minimum of 13 leave slots a week for 50 weeks should be available. If you then agree to open up, say, another 3 slots, due to agreed absorption through the summer weeks, then in the period from June to August, the number of open slots available should be 16.
This is just one flat line example. Units may decide not to employ against all 13 reserves and convert some to S/A, or overtime. This is subject to local discussion and agreement.
It is also relevant to remind Branches that in the ‘Joint Statement between Royal Mail and the CWU in regards to a joint review of Annual Leave Arrangements’ set out in LTB 409/19, that the following additional clarity was given around the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and displaying annual leave plans on workplace notice boards:
It has been highlighted that there may be some confusion since GDPR came into force. The confusion relates specifically to displaying annual leave plans on notice boards and whether this is still permissible. To be clear, displaying annual leave plans on notice boards does not contravene GDPR, as the sharing of names against annual leave slots is not considered as ‘sensitive personal data’.
It is in fact essential for units to display annual leave plans on notice boards, so that there is a common understanding of the annual leave plan. Please ensure annual leave plans continue to be displayed on notice boards in all units.
Branches and Representatives should progress any disagreements in regard to managers refusing to fully engage and adhere to these guidelines in establishing annual leave plans/agreements through the IR Framework as appropriate.
Clearly, from the union’s point of view, it was still considered right and appropriate to try and seek to secure a refreshed National Joint Statement for 2023-24 on annual leave planning and arrangements and to do so by September. Given Royal Mail’s failure to respond, we have now been left with no alternative but re-issue last year’s Joint Statement with the above further points, to seek to support and assist Branches in moving forward with annual leave planning at a local level.
Any queries to the content of the above, please contact the Outdoor Department, reference: 445, email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark BaulchAssistant Secretary