With your staff having a legal requirement to at least 5.6 weeks’ annual leave per year, it’s not surprising that you might sometimes come across the situation when staff request holidays at the same time. If you have sufficient staff to be able to absorb simultaneous absence then multiple requests will not cause you a problem but small businesses may not be able to cope.
Having policies and procedures in place from the start will help you deal with this situation. It is a legal requirement that employees are given a statement of main terms of employment and this statement must contain details on annual leave entitlement. It is good practice to also set out the company rules on requesting holidays, including any measures you take to ensure that you are not left with too few staff.
Most companies run a first come first served annual leave booking system which would seem to be the fairest. Some companies temper this with a restriction on booking annual leave until the start of the annual leave year in question which prevents people booking leave two years in advance, for example.
Your procedures will be stronger if they contain wording to point out to staff the reasoning for any refusals you might make. This way, staff will know in advance that, for example, maintenance of operational efficiency and appropriate staffing levels will be also considered before approving a holiday request and that they may expect that not all requests will be granted.
Even without such a procedure, you can refuse requests for time off – you should remember that the employee is making a request for time off which then awaits your approval. You are entitled to say no if the company’s genuine interests will be compromised i.e. there will not be enough staff to run efficiently on that day. When you are refusing a request, you should remember that you need to give notice of the refusal that is equal to the amount of time requested. This means that if two days’ leave has been requested, you must give at least two days’ notice that you are not permitting the leave to be taken.
Formal annual leave request and recording procedures will make it easier for you to identify where there are request clashes. Keeping all requests and records in one place will make for an efficient way of knowing who has had a request granted and for which days. hronline can do this for you – staff can make an annual leave request through the service at any time they like so do not have to wait for you to come back into the office, for example, or out of your meeting. They will be alerted to the fact that there is a request clash and that the annual leave quote for that day has already been filled. Alternatively, you can authorise the request through hronline and the employee’s record will automatically be updated to show their absence on that day.
By Nicola Mullineux