How to fairly manage holiday requests

How to fairly manage holiday requests

December 21, 2021

The Covid 19 pandemic has had a tremendous effect on the way we plan for and take holidays from work. Now that we are relatively free to travel again, it’s likely that you might soon face a scenario where lots of staff all want to take leave at the same time. But how should you manage this so that holiday requests are processed fairly?

We recommend having a Holiday section in your Employee Handbook.

If you define what process employee’s should follow to book annual leave, they should refer to this before requesting leave. If staff are really familiar with the rules of how leave should be requested, and when it will be approved, misunderstandings and potential conflict can often be avoided.

Your holiday leave process could include:

  • How much notice staff should give if they want to take leave?
  • Any minimum cover requirements – how many staff in similar roles or teams can be off at the same time?
  • How competing requests for the same holiday dates will be managed.
  • Deadlines – if a team member wants to take holiday in November, when is the latest date they can request leave?  And when will they receive a decision by?
  • A reminder that leave requests can be turned down if business reasons dictate.

Competing requests

If all your staff want half term off, take some time to think how you will decide which request will be granted.  You might have always approved the first request that you receive, but eventually this can become problematic. You might need to consider introducing rotation, so that staff take turns at taking holiday at popular times. By introducing the idea of rotation, and discussing this at team meetings, you may find that staff will work with each other before requesting leave, and decide amongst themselves who will request which leave, so that everyone’s needs are met before the requests even reach you.

Religious observance

Some staff may wish to celebrate religious events that don’t coincide with the Christian calendar. Be sympathetic to such requests wherever possible.

Saying no to a request for leave

If you turn down a request for business reasons, you must give appropriate notice. The Working Time Regulations 1999 states the notice you give staff when refusing leave requests should be at least twice the length of the holiday they have asked for.

Can you be flexible

Whatever the reasons for holiday requests, it’s great to have rules! But there will always be occasions when an employee requests a last minute holiday. When you can accommodate these it often pays to be flexible. Once its gone its gone. Also remember leave is paid at the rate when someone takes it rather than when it was accrued. Something to consider if pay-rises are imminent.

If you need any assistance in managing holiday requests, including developing a holiday leave process please contact us on 01527 909436.


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