The great summer holiday exodus

Posted on 4th July 2018

It’s that time of year again, where we look at our teams and are sure that we employ more people than we can see. So how is it best to deal with a multitude of annual leave requests? Or in a year where there is a World Cup, how do we handle all of the single days requested for leave?



Hopefully you have a policy in place that directs you as a manager how to deal with annual leave requests. It’s likely that your policy states a first come first served basis. But as we know with teams of people this doesn’t always work out well. Haven’t got a policy? Please give us a call and we can advise how to put how you work into words.

If you haven’t got a policy, the main issue around booking annual leave is that employees don’t understand how the decision is made as to whether their request can be approved or not. You should have a decision-making process. Either number of staff off at one time, or a production requirement which means a certain level of staffing; then ensure that you communicate it! Use the method your employees are used to being communicated by, use it to ensure that people understand the situation.


What to look at…

Policy or not, there will be a number of people or a mix of skills that you need in order for your business to run, hopefully, seamlessly. Armed with this information you should be able to determine which requests you can approve – or not as the case may be.

However, there are always those situations that occur that require some consideration. The employee who would like a day off due to wanting to watch the football; the employee who needs a day’s leave for a special occasion or an appointment. And they fall at a time when another employee has their two weeks’ leave. There is no rule that says that you have to approve every request. However, do have a serious think about whether you can approve the single days or even going back with an alternative. Perhaps half a day would be acceptable to you and the employee? There is nothing more damaging than a blanket “NO” without explanation. Explain the situation to the employee and see if you can come to some compromise. It’s a win-win all round.

The approval side of the situation is probably one that you’re used to dealing with, however, how can you prepare your team for this busy annual leave period?



We talk about team working and communication a lot, and with good reason. When you’re in a situation where you have team members going on annual leave directly after each other, particularly within the school holiday period, it can be difficult to ensure that projects are followed up and customers’ needs are met. Getting the team together regularly to ensure that they’re used to communicating about on-going issues or projects and providing updates will ensure that everyone maintains an awareness of situations. Setting up a system of communicating updates and handovers can be imperative to ensuring that the proverbial ball isn’t dropped!

Whether it’s paper-based or held within a project management piece of software, ensure that everyone understands the importance of updating the system, communicating responsibilities and marking tasks as completed.

The what, when, where and who are important whenever you are communicating. So when an individual hasn’t been in the loop for a couple of weeks, being able to walk back into work and understand what the priorities are, what’s changed and who is responsible for what can be the difference between looking professional to the outside world and looking like a shambles!


The rules…

Now, wherever I have worked there is always that one person who never books leave. This can be for a number of reasons, and as an employer you may think that this is great; they are always around when you need them. However, as an employer, there is a requirement that you ensure that employees are able to take their annual leave (the statutory 5.6 weeks at least) within your holiday year.

This means that you need to monitor your employees’ annual leave. If they are halfway through the year and they haven’t booked any leave, you need to take control of the situation; have a discussion with them. I have been in a situation previously where I have had to enforce that an employee takes paid leave at times designated by the company. It isn’t, believe it or not, the easiest conversation to have. There can be personal reasons why people don’t want to book leave. However, as an employer you do have a duty of care. Ensure that your employees take the breaks to which they are entitled to ensure that they can rest and recuperate.

If you are struggling with planning around annual leave, or ensuring that you have the right cover in the right places, or just want to ensure that your policy accurately reflects the way in which you handle annual leave requests in your organisation, please contact us and we will be happy to help.

Lindsay Baker Character
Written by:
Lindsay Baker
Head of HR