The last few years have seen many people miss out on our usual summer holidays due to the pandemic, therefore more employees may be looking to book annual leave at the same time to get away this year. Striking a good work-life balance is hugely important for team morale, with annual leave playing a key role in staff wellbeing.
However, it’s also important that your team have the best interests of the business in mind when requesting time off work, and understand that an employer is well within their rights to refuse a request for annual leave or even cancel pre-approved annual leave if it’s crucial to the needs of the business.
As an employer it’s your responsibility to have rules in place about booking annual leave. These should be clearly outlined in the employee’s contract of employment or employee handbook. Within this you should set out how much notice an employee needs to provide, the process for requesting annual leave and how many consecutive working days can be booked at one time. You may also want to stipulate the maximum number of employees allowed to take leave at the same time and reserve the right to refuse or cancel holiday where required.
10 tips to help you manage staff holidays
- Start with a holiday policy. Holiday policies will let your employees know what to expect when requesting leave, and will demonstrate your steps to maintain fairness.
- Allocate leave on a first come, first served basis. Operating a first come, first served policy around holiday requests is usually the fairest way to manage a situation where multiple employees might want to take holiday at the same time. If you do adopt this approach, make sure you clearly indicate this in your holiday policy.
- Set limits on the number of employees who can take leave at the same time. For client-facing departments in particular, you may need a minimum number of employees working at any particular time. Again, you must make your staff aware that this is the case.
- Specify any time frames where taking leave will not be permitted. If you have a particularly busy period – such as Christmas, for example – when you really need a full workforce, you can restrict staff from booking leave during this time. Again, ensure your staff are aware that this is the case.
- Specify any days when holiday must be taken. Perhaps your business shuts down between Christmas and New Year, and you want all your employees to take holiday over that period. Your holiday policy will need to indicate to staff that they will need to reserve some of their annual leave allowance for this.
- Ask employees to provide notice when requesting leave. The more notice, the better. You can specify that they provide a notice period that is at least twice as long as the period of leave they wish to take.
- Give notice if you need to refuse a holiday request. Employers can refuse a leave request but should provide a notice period equal to the amount of leave requested.
- Proactively review holiday bookings throughout the year. It’ll help you to spot whether you have too many staff holding on to their allowance, or too many requests clashing.
- Evaluate requests for extended holidays. Review all extended requests properly and assess the impact on the business.
- Transparency. Being transparent with the expectations of staff and the reciprocal obligation of the employer from the offset can help avoid any unnecessary disappointment from the team, as well as protecting your business.
Creating a positive attitude towards taking annual leave within your organisation goes a long way to striking a good work-life balance. After all, taking regular annual leave can lead not only to higher productivity, but also to decreased stress and absenteeism.