As we move closer to the summer season, you may notice that holiday requests from employees are starting to rise – and you’re also likely to receive a number of annual leave requests for the same period of time. While larger companies may find it easier to re-distribute workloads to make granting these requests possible, medium or smaller sized employers may not be able to accommodate all of them…

If you notice a high number of holiday requests during your busiest periods, you may want to look for ways to limit or prevent employees from taking annual leave during that time. This can be done by introducing a ‘holiday cap’.

This cap can be set per team in larger businesses or for the whole workforce in a smaller organisation. Using this method will ensure that you always have the right staff with the right knowledge and skills to cover the workload. As an employer, how you set these caps is at your complete discretion.

Absence restrictions

If the business can’t manage with any annual leave absences during a certain period, you can handle the situation by imposing a restriction on all employees taking leave on or during set dates. These restrictions can be managed by:

  • Clearly setting them out in the contract of employment
  • Incorporating them into the contract of employment through a collective agreement settled with a trade union
  • Implied into the terms and conditions through custom and practice

It’s important to note that the restrictions only prevent employees from taking holidays during a defined period of time; employees should not be prevented from taking their whole leave entitlement during the leave year in which it was accrued, as all staff have a statutory right to do so.

An alternative approach…

If you don’t want to limit or prevent staff from taking holidays, you can take a more relaxed approach and make a decision on each holiday request as it comes.

If you wish to prevent an employee from taking a particular day off, you have a statutory right to give counter-notice, requiring the worker not to take leave during the requested period. Counter-notice has to be at least the same amount of time as the length of the requested annual leave.

Similarly to counter-notice, employers can also give notice requiring employees to take their annual leave over a certain period – make sure that this type of notice is twice the length of the leave period in question.