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Entrepreneurs Panel

David Pollock
Jeremy Roberts
Tony Caldeira
Julie Meyer
Michael Oliver
Laura Tenison
Charlie Mullins
Debbie Pierce
Brian Hay
Steve Purdham
Jennie Johnson
Richard O'Sullivan

Holiday entitlement

Richard O'Sullivan

Founded Millie’s Cookies in 1985 and went on to sell the Bury-based chain to catering giant Compass in 2003 for £24 million. In 2007 he signed an agreement with Boost Juice Bars – an Australian-based juice chain – to operate its UK outlets. The tenth Boost unit opened in the UK in Bristol in June 2009. O’Sullivan has been chairman of the Liverpool bar chain Baa Bar since 2006 and the Mexican food chain Barburrito since October 2008.

Question: 

I run a small PR company employing eight people, but one of my workers has asked if they can have a month off during the school holidays. The maximum length of time I have given in the past was three weeks for a staff member who was getting married. I’m worried that if I let the employee have the four weeks off, others will want to follow suit. What would you do?

Answer: 

Firstly I’d ensure that you have comprehensive policies and procedures in place for your business.

The company arrangements and restrictions for holidays would be covered within these making it easier for everyone concerned in instances of this nature.

However, if the request for one month’s holiday during the school holidays is something the business could easily work around, I’d be inclined to allow this.

I would try to be a great employer whenever the circumstances allowed. The fear of what other employees might ask for would not be a factor in decision making for me at all.

I would actually see that as an opportunity to build stronger loyalty ties for both parties.

I’ve never known employees to underperform because they were treated well in their working lives.

Obviously, if this request for four weeks’ holiday were to put unworkable commercial pressure on the business or the rest of the team I would explain that clearly to the employee and decline their request.

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