Six Tips for Managing Summer Holiday Requests

The Summer holiday season is nearly here and we are ready to pack our sun cream and flip flops and head off into the sun.


But for businesses, managing a balance of trying to accommodate all staff holiday requests and keeping the business going can be a nightmare.

And what happens when staff want the same time off? It is inevitable that your staff, especially those with school aged children, will want holidays in the prime-time Summer months and are often limited to when they can take their holiday due to the school holiday.

For the business, it is important that work is covered, client needs are met and all staff get their entitled leave and rest.

But not all staff can fly off on holiday at the same time. So how do you handle multiple requests for holiday bookings?

Here are my six top tips on managing annual leave requests:-

1.  Have a clear annual leave procedure
A procedure will clearly set out the rules for all to abide by.

The procedure should cover:
• the leave year and holiday entitlement, including statutory holidays
• the basis of approval, ie. first-come, first-served basis,
• how they apply for holiday and any notice they are required to give,
• a limit to how much leave can be taken at any one time (unless there are exceptional circumstances, for example a honeymoon),
• dealing with holiday entitlement carry forwards from one year to the next,
• restrictions on when leave can be taken,
• Any leave determined by the employer (for example shutdown over the Christmas period.)

Having an annual leave procedure, which sets out how annual leave should be booked and what will happen if employees do not follow the procedure should help in situations like these.

2.  Be fair, consistent and transparent
Treat all staff the same; part time, full time, fixed term, being careful not to discriminate against a particular group.

For transparency have a holiday planner, either virtual or on the office wall. This can help keep the process clear and enable staff to plan their holiday entitlement around each other.

3.  Plan Ahead
Ask employees of their intentions in advance. Not everyone wants to take leave in the school summer holiday. This will allow you to schedule in everyone’s requested leave and ensure business commitments are met, thus meeting the needs of both the business and the employees. It is a good idea to insist your staff give a minimum period of notice when requesting time off, to enable suitable cover to be arranged.

4.  An annual leave request can be refused
An employee has a right to statutory annual leave but an employer can say when leave can or cannot be taken. However, I recommend if you are going to refuse the request, give a clear explanation for the reason. Ensure that the business reason is given for the decision so that the individual has a full understanding of the refusal.

5.  Handling competing holiday requests fairly
There are two ways of handling competing requests:

You could base the decision on who had what holiday last year – arguably this is the most equitable approach and appears fair to all.

Or, you could operate a first come, first served system. Whilst this is not unlawful, it may prejudice those less organised, out of the office or just very busy.

Make sure that your staff are aware that they should not book or confirm a holiday before it has been approved. There is nothing worse than a member of staff excitedly asking for leave for a holiday they have booked, only for you to refuse it because too many other staff are already off.

6. Maintaining the service during the Summer months
Normal service must continue, especially for your customers and clients, so ensure staff collaborate. Make sure staff not on leave have access to the required documents and contact information to continue the work of their colleagues.

Finally, a popular question asked by my clients :

Q. What happens when a member of staff falls sick during their leave?

A. If a member of staff has prearranged leave and is sick, firstly they should follow the Sickness Policy. They must notify you know as soon as possible and obtain a medical certificate, either abroad or when they return. Employees can take their holiday at another time even if this means taking it the following year.

For employers who pay statutory sick pay (SSP), if an employee turns holiday leave to sick leave, they should expect to receive sick pay only, because they are unfit to do the job during that period.

I love helping and guiding businesses through the minefield of employment and HR. If you would like to chat about how I can help your business, give me a call on 07483 253984 or email me:

#holiday entitlement #annual leave