How to keep the peace when forced to decline staff holidays

Your management skills will be tested.

BrightHR Team

As Richard Branson said; “Employees come first; if you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients”.

But keeping employees happy and productive, can take time and effort - time a business owner is often short of. And while employees are vital to a businesses’ success, there is only so much a small business owner can achieve on their own, so it is no wonder that issues arise.

Whether it be cultural issues, people feeling unhappy at the way they are being managed, workloads, the working environment, the list is endless.

But one thing that could cause instant disharmony is having to decline an employee holiday requestSo, how can businesses ensure this doesn't cause a problem?


The rules and dealing with any negative fallout

“An employer has the right to refuse a holiday request. This is called 'counter-notice', which must be given in advance by at least the same length of the planned holiday” - ACAS

It is perfectly acceptable for an employer to refuse a holiday request, but they must ensure it is done with proper consideration and that any reasons for declining leave is communicated to the employee. By doing this the employee does not feel they are being unfairly penalised or the refusal is due to any other reason than the one stated. Of course, the employee may be disappointed but by doing this it will hopefully reduce any negative reactions.


Prevention is the best cure

The best way to deal with holiday refusal issues is to deal with them before they even happen. This can be achieved in a number of ways. Firstly, employees should be told via their contract that they should not arrange holidays until a request is approved. This way they cannot respond to refusals with the excuse that the holiday is already booked, and you can avoid any potential negative outcomes.

Communication is key. Let employees know about any potential times of the year where they are definitely needed to be in the office. With this covered, employees should be aware that they can't book holidays in that time and, if they do, there is a sound reason for their request to be met with refusal. The actual holiday booking process and the timescales of notice that are needed should be reiterated, again, if an employee wants to book a holiday they know the notice they should be giving. This method isn't always possible, but it can cut out any potential problems before they happen.  


Doing what’s best for your business

It goes without saying that if employee holidays can be granted, they should be, and employers should be as flexible as they possibly can be. That way, even if an employee has a last minute request or they have not quite used the correct procedure, the company is still in a position to approve; keeping the employee happy and avoiding any of the negative outcomes.

Ultimately it comes down to doing what is best for business. If employers are in a position to approve that’s great, however, if there is a need to decline for the good of the business, then as long as procedures are followed, and the advice above heeded, employers can be confident in doing so.


Need to take the hassle out of the holiday approval process? Find out how BrightHR can help your business