Refused an employee's holiday request only for them to call in sick on the same day?

  • Employee Conduct
Peninsula Logo

Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

Read our article: 'Refused an employee's holiday request only for them to call in sick on the same day?'. Contact us today for more information about our Employment Law, Health & Safety, and HR services.

Employees quite often try to outsmart absence management and holiday policies, and may not be entirely truthful about their time off. Sooner or later, pretty much every employer will encounter a situation where an employee has requested a holiday which has been refused, only to find that they take the day off as a ‘sickie’ anyway. But what can you do about it? Taking action under these circumstances can be difficult, as you may not have any solid evidence – it may be that you’ve just heard some rumours that the employee is going on their holiday anyway. In order to remove additional work stress, you may be tempted to take the easy route by ignoring it and giving them the benefit of the doubt – but that’s not what effective management is about! When rumours reach you... If you’ve become aware of the employee’s plans before the day in question, you should take a pre-emptive strike – because knowing that their plans have been discovered is often enough to stop employees from faking a sick day. This is what you should do:

  • Hold an informal meeting to inform them that you’ve become aware of the rumour
  • Ask them directly if it’s true
  • Document their holiday request and reasons for refusal
  • Warn the employee that if they go off sick or have an unauthorised absence, disciplinary action may be taken against them
  • Ensure that this process/rule is included in your absence management policy

Unexpected absence If no rumours have been heard but an employee unexpectedly calls in sick on the day of the refused holiday, it’s best to hold a ‘return to work’ interview once they’re back in. Ask them about their illness, symptoms and if they’re feeling better, in order to help you assess if the illness was genuine – and explain to them why the company might not think it was. If the absence was more than 7 days, you should ask for medical evidence, as the employee should provide you with a sick note. If you have reasonable ground to hold a reasonable belief that the illness was not genuine, then depending on your absence policy you may be able to treat the days off as an unauthorised absence and take disciplinary action against the employee. The most important thing as an employer is to learn from events like this: establish a system that enables you to hold information about similar incidents, and regularly look over this to identify any patterns or trends.  


Got a question? Check whether we’ve already answered it for you…

Related articles

  • a male and female colleague working at a desk together


    UK gender pay gap falls at fastest pace since 2017

    The overall UK gender pay gap has fallen at the fastest rate in six years with a 12.2% differential between men and women

    Peninsula GroupHR and Health & Safety Experts
    • Equality & Diversity
Back to resource hub

Try Peninsula for free today

See for yourself why Peninsula is the UK’s favourite HR and health & safety provider. Tap below to unlock free advice, policies, e-learning, and more.

Sign up to our newsletter

Get the latest news & tips that matter most to your business in our monthly newsletter.

International sites

© 2023 Peninsula Business Services Limited. Registered Office: The Peninsula, Victoria Place, Manchester, M4 4FB. Registered in England and Wales No: 1702759. Peninsula Business Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority for the sale of non-investment insurance contracts.

ISO 27001 and 9001 accredited company.
The Sunday Times - Top Track 250.
Glassdoor 2018 Best Places To Work.