Can You Refuse a Leave Request for Specific Dates?

February 13, 2020

You might not like doing it, but in any business, it is sometimes necessary to refuse a leave request. This can be done by giving written notice as long as the holiday you are turning down, so to refuse a leave request for three days off, you would need to give three days’ notice. If you need to cancel leave that you have already approved, you will need to show that you have considered other options.

There are many reasons why you might need to do this, from other staff already being off work to spikes in customer demand. When you have to refuse a leave request, here are a few things to bear in mind.

Try to avoid refusing leave.

Turning down a holiday request is something that may be necessary for the smooth running of your operation, but it is also something that will strain your employee relations. One key way to avoid this awkward situation is to make sure that you communicate clearly with staff.  If you have regular peaks in trading, such as for many retail firms in the run-up to Christmas, or hotels during the summer, then you should consider a ban on holidays during this period. Making this a part of your annual leave policy, and making sure that all employees know the rules should mean that you don’t get requests for time off during this period.

Another thing that can leave you having to refuse a leave request is a rush caused by the end of your company’s holiday year. We’ve written before on this blog about how to avoid this, but communication, once again, is the key. By keeping staff up-to-date on how much holiday they have left to take, and encouraging them to take it throughout the year, you can avoid a last-minute rush, and having to refuse a leave request for an employee.

Be fair and consistent.

In annual leave, as in all areas of your business, it is vital that you treat each of your employees fairly. If an employee feels that you tend to refuse a leave request for them when you would approve it for others, then this could lead to claims against you.  This is another good reason to make sure that your policy on annual leave is clear, and that it is communicated to all staff.

Make sure to give the legal amount of notice.

When you do have to refuse a leave request, the employee has a right to be given notice, and in many countries, the length of this notice is set by law. For UK-based workers, the law says that they must get as much notice as the number of days they asked to take off. This means that to refuse a request for a single day off you can give one day’s notice of refusal, but for a two-week application, you would need to let the employee know a fortnight in advance.

Try to give as much notice as possible.

While it’s important to make sure you meet your team’s legal rights, it’s perhaps more important to remember the impact on them personally when you refuse a leave request. Turning down a day off may mean that plans have to be arranged, and at short notice could mean that they lose any deposit they might have paid for a holiday. Employees may understand why you had to refuse their holiday, but if you do it too often, or too suddenly, it will have a bad effect on staff morale and turnover.

Take control of annual leave.

The easiest way to manage your annual leave is to put yourself in control using a purpose-built, customisable leave management platform.  With LeaveWizard, automatic email updates keep staff informed of their remaining entitlement, while online apps and dashboards make it simple to approve or refuse leave requests. Better yet LeaveWizard’s smart system builds your annual leave policy into the application process so that employees cannot request holidays during periods when it is not allowed.

Discover the power of LeaveWizard for yourself by having a free online demo.

Book a free 30 min demo