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Dealing with Annual Leave Requests

Most of us want to enjoy the summer. But as employers, you will often face the difficult task of dealing with numerous annual leave requests, refusing leave and cancelling pre-approved holidays.

The workplace rules in your business should set out how much notice an employee needs to provide, how the leave must be booked and how many consecutive working days can be booked. You may also specify how many people can be off work at any one time.

Dealing with holiday requests

If everyone wants to have the same days off, you could grant leave on the basis of first come, first serve. If your premises are open all year around with no seasonable shutdowns, you could also consider allowing people to choose between time off at Christmas and summer. So if someone does not get the time off they requested at Christmas, they could be given priority when they are booking leave for their summer holiday.

It is also beneficial to encourage your team to collaborate with each other to coordinate leave to ensure operational business requirements are met and issues are quickly resolved.

Refusing annual leave

To say no to a request, you must give the employee counter notice. The length of the notice must be equivalent to the period of leave that the employee was trying to book.

It is also possible that you make employees take annual leave at certain times of the year, for example, if you close at Easter time. Alternatively, there may be times when you may decide to prohibit employees taking annual leave, particularly in the run up to the festive season.

Cancelling annual leave

The law does allow an employer to cancel an employees annual leave that you have previously approved. To do this, you must provide the appropriate amount of notice. The length of the notice must be equivalent to the period of leave that the employee planned to take. This means that if an employee was due to take a week of holiday and you wish to cancel it, you must provide a minimum of a weeks notice.

You also need to be aware that you must not cancel annual leave if it means that the employee cannot take their full statutory annual leave entitlement in that leave year.


Author: Laura Chalkley, Senior Employment Law adviser and Partnerships team leader at Ellis Whittam