Leave Management

HR Guide to Creating a Fair Holiday Policy

How to create a fair annual leave request policy for your employees...
Sean QuinnPosted on Monday, November 6th 2023

For small business owners and Human Resources professionals, managing employees' annual leave requests can become a full time job. In order to make things easier and avoid disagreements in the workplace, it's wise to enact a company wide policy which deals with all requests fairly. There are many different factors to consider, in order to ensure employees can take the rest they deserve, whilst the business is not left short staffed.

How to create a fair holiday policy

Decide on notice periods

Generally, most businesses will require employees to make leave requests within a certain timeframe. The notice required usually depends on the leave duration, with the most common notice period being twice the leave duration plus one day.

So for example, if an employee requests 10 days off, this must be requested at least 11 days before the start of the leave.

Depending on your business, you may deviate slightly from this, but the leave notice period should allow you time to find additional staffing if required and avoid any disruption.

Lock off any important dates

There may be dates where you simply can't afford for any staff members to be absent, and need all hands on deck.

During busy periods, it's wise to 'lock' certain dates and automatically veto any requests for time off.

Create a Bank Holiday policy

Your employees' contracts and company policy should lay out whether Public Holidays are given as part of their annual leave entitlement, or in addition to it.

In some cases, you might require some employees to work during Bank Holidays - for example, if you run a physical store which remains open, or if you serve customers online in another region who don't celebrate the same national holidays.

It's up to you whether employees receive their normal pay for working on these dates, but many businesses offer an incentive in the form of overtime pay for working on a Bank Holiday.

Set limits for each team

To avoid short staffing and to prevent any disputes between teammates, you may wish to set a limit for how many team members can be on leave at one time.

Once this limit is reached, any further requests should be declined (you can even handle this automatically through your leave management system).

Usually, requests should be dealt with on a 'first come, first served' basis, to avoid any accusations of favouritism between colleagues.

Employee FAQs

Can my employer tell me when to take my annual leave?

Yes - your employer can tell you when to take your annual leave. They may specify that you must use your annual leave, for example, on company wide closure days and Bank Holidays.

Can my holiday requests be denied?

Yes - your employer can deny your requests for annual leave for a specific date, however they cannot prevent you from taking your annual leave for the year. In the UK, full time employees are legally entitled to 28 days of annual leave.

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