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Top 5 ways to manage an annual leave request

Many employers are inundated with annual leave and holiday requests over the summer. After all, the summer is peak holiday season for a reason. Some businesses find that new business drops off as a result – particularly those working with European markets whose doors may close for the month of August. But for other organisations, the opposite is true as they look towards the final business quarter of the year.

It can be challenging for managers knowing how best to manage an annual leave request. We’ve put together five tips to help you get on top of the holiday season.

The UK statutory holiday entitlement including Bank Holidays is 28 days (if a standard five-day week is worked). Part-time workers are paid annual leave on a pro-rata basis. Employers don’t have to pay bank holidays by law and it is at their discretion if they do.

  1. Know your annual leave policy

If you haven’t already put together an annual leave policy for staff, now’s the time to do it.

Here’s what you can include:

  • How to go about requesting annual leave.
  • What are reasonable notice periods for requiring time off.
  • What happens if there is a clash and employees want the same time off.
  • The maximum amount of annual leave an employee can take in one go.
  • Whether you need to limit annual leave around busy periods.
  • When does your leave year start and end?
  • Whether you allow staff to carry over annual leave to the next year.
  1. Decide how to prioritise multiple leave requests

There may be several people who want the same week off as each other. It’s good to have a policy as to how you will make the system fair if this is the case.

  • Think how it will impact the business if two staff in the same team go off at the same time. Can you work with a more skeletal staff?
  • Will you prioritise those who ask first? But what if they same employee is always more organised than the other one?
  • You may wish to write everyone’s names down as to who asks first and then start from the bottom of the list next year and award priority like that.
  • Be mindful that working parents juggling childcare often cannot afford to have their annual leave request rejected during school holidays.
  1. Give working parents flexibility

The summer holidays are a difficult and potentially stressful time for parents who are often juggling even more in terms of logistics during the summer months, so greater flexibility may be required.

  • Think how you can be flexible with working parents. Can you let them work reduced hours for a week or two to help them with early summer childcare pickups?
  • You may wish to allow parents to work from home occasionally during the month of August. Use your discretion but bear in mind how this will impact other employees.
  • Be proactive in getting people to hand in their annual leave requests with plenty of notice to ensure everyone gets the dates they’re looking for. This will help to avoid problems along the line.
  1. Consider hiring flexible workers

If you know that you have a busier period of work coming up and lots of staff on leave, it’s a good idea to consider recruiting extra staff to help you cover the workload.

  • If your business has busy trading times during the summer months, you may need to limit how many people go off at the same time. But this can impact staff negatively if they need to be off during school holidays.
  • You could hire contractors or temporary workers to help you cover peak periods of activity.
  • Many businesses are quieter in the summer months, so if there are any sudden bursts of activity, flexible workers are a great option.
  1. Record annual leave effectively

Many businesses find it useful to have a central calendar that all employees have access to so they can see where other employees have already asked for leave before they put in a request.

  • If you don’t have an HR department, decide who will manage and record everyone’s annual leave?
  • Do you need to invest in software to help you manage large numbers of employees?
  • What will be your procedure if you have to turn down a leave request?
  • Do you need to create a holiday request form? Or is email official enough?

Good luck managing the summer holiday period. Remember, hard-working employees deserve their holiday and research has shown taking time off improves wellness and productivity but also, annual leave needs to work around the business as well.

If you’d like to discuss your flexible work options with our experienced and friendly consultants, please get in touch with the team at today.

4 min read