When Is It OK To Refuse Annual Leave?

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With summer just around the corner, you’ll find that most of your workforce will start requesting annual leave for holidays, childcare or just some fun and relaxation in the sun.

This can be a bit of a stress on some businesses especially when departments are small and at least one member of every team needs to be in the office at any one time.

But, as an employer, you do have a right to refuse annual leave requests when there is a sound reason and it may be something to consider if any of the below apply to you.

Too many staff have requested the same day/time off

If there is a department that requires someone to be present to answer the phone or greet guests then it means that not everyone in that department can be on annual leave at the same time. Therefore, you may have to reject requests to ensure that your business can continue running and being as productive as usual and doesn’t potentially lose out on money.

The best method in this situation is to offer annual leave on a first come first serve basis.

It’s a busy period

In some industries there are busy periods that require more staff than normal to be on the premises at one time such as Christmas or school summer holidays.

You should clearly communicate to staff that holidays are not permitted during this period or that it is available for a limited number of staff (on a first come basis) so that they are aware of the policy well in advance.

It clashes with an important business commitment

An employee may request to book time off during an already scheduled in meeting, appointment or event that requires them to be present. If the business commitment is important and cannot be re-scheduled then refusing holiday is acceptable.

The employee has not followed procedures correctly

Your employee contracts or handbooks should clearly outline your policy when it comes to booking annual leave including how much notice must be given, who needs to be informed, how requests should be made etc.

If an employee doesn’t follow this policy correctly, i.e. requests annual leave just a week in advance of the requested dates, then you have the right to reject this based on short notice.

However, one big exception to these rules is – if you are fast approaching the end of the working calendar year and an employee still has several days of holiday to take, and your company does not allow for annual leave to be carried over into the following year, then you must ensure that, if requested, they get those remaining days off.

Making sure that your staff receive the minimum, or agreed, holiday entitlement every year is one of your responsibilities as an employer. Though if they forget or opt not to take all their leave, that is on the employer.

If you do refuse an employee’s request for annual leave, but they take it anyway then this is a disciplinary offence and you can treat it as gross misconduct.

Your Holiday Entitlement Policy must clearly communicate your procedures and expectations to your employees. If you need any support in producing this then we have qualified HR consultants on hand to assist you.

Just call us on 0845 2626 260 for more information or to book a free consultation!

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