Monday, 26 March 2012

Annual Leave

Daffodils in the corner of the garden
Surprise daffodils that I planted and forgot about until they appeared this spring

The end of the year draws closer, according to the calendar of Annual Leave. The amount of holiday entitlement within the NHS is generous, even for new employees, at five weeks plus public holidays. The difficulty comes when you try to actually take time off - in the acute dietetic posts, Ward Cover Must Be Maintained. Even though we don't work evenings and weekends.

So there is a process of applying for leave that takes into account everyone else who might be taking time off. Most of the time there's no problem, and the first person to apply for any particular period is given permission. At Christmas and New Year things are different, and everyone's preferences must be taken into account. Unfortunately, when I was asked if I had any holiday booked when I started the job, I didn't look as far ahead as the New Year, so now I'm in the position of having to ask very nicely for time off, and hoping that my colleagues won't get shirty that I've asked for a full week straight after Christmas.

There is an absolute edict that No Leave Can Be Carried Over to the following year, which starts on 1 April. Everything must be used up, but there must still be Ward Cover. When I joined, the peculiarities of the way that leave is calculated meant that I needed to use up just over five days before the end of March. In previous jobs, I have found that taking single days off suits me very well, rather than a whole week at a time, so that's what I booked. It also fitted in better with everyone else, because wasn't a whole week available that didn't compromise the essential Ward Cover.

The trouble is that when you take a week off, then some of your patients will be picked up by other Dietitians if necessary. If you take a day off, they don't. So since I've joined, I've been working four-day weeks, but still having five days of work to do, plus cover for other Dietitians who've most sensibly taken full weeks of holiday. This goes some way towards explaining the amount of pressure I've felt I've been under.

To make me feel better, Mr A and I have been working out what our holidays might consist of this year, and we're hoping for a week camping in May/June as well as the family holiday in October and the New Year holiday (as long as I'm allowed to take that week off), with two more weeks in hand. I won't be taking any more odd days, though.

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