HR Expert: Annual Leave During the School Summer Holidays
My client has received a number of overlapping requests for annual leave during the school summer holidays and wants to know how to handle them.

With most schools closing for a period of around 6 weeks during the summer holidays this can cause a number of issues for your client, especially when it comes to staff wanting time off to care for their children.

Employees place great significance on their annual leave entitlement and there is a common misconception that they can take annual leave whenever they want. However, your client has the authority to decline requests for annual leave during the summer holidays, providing they have a clear business reason for doing so.

When dealing with annual leave requests during this time, your client should stick to any pre-existing workplace policy. Well-constructed policies should lay out clear ground rules on how to correctly submit requests and how much notice is required. Your client is within their right not to accept any requests that do not abide by these rules.

Your client shouldn’t stray from their usual procedure with regards to overlapping holiday requests simply because it is the school summer holidays. The prospect of having several individuals off at the same time can be problematic, especially for smaller employers with limited resources, and your client will be within their right to refuse any requests which stand to have a detrimental impact on business operations.

Your client should review these requests and determine whether any of them can be approved. This will depend on the length of time each individual is requesting off work and whether there is sufficient cover available for them during this period.

If your client finds themselves in a situation where they can only approve one of the overlapping requests then it is advisable to select the employee who was first to submit their request. Whilst your client may be inclined to favour holiday requests from those with childcare commitments, they are not required to do so and anything other than a ‘first come first served’ approach may result in claims of favouritism.

Alternatively, if your client is unhappy with refusing several employees’ requests in favour of another they could give the individuals an opportunity to come up with a compromise between themselves. However, this option will not always come to a satisfying conclusion and your client may need to step in regardless.

Ultimately, how your client handles these requests will depend on their existing policies and procedures. Annual leave requests for during the summer holidays may be treated the same as any others and your client has the right to put the needs of the business first in these situations.

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