How To: Manage Staff Annual Leave

Nowadays employees are encouraged to take time off and find their work-life balance. That being said, HR and managerial staff can find it especially difficult to accommodate annual leave requests and there does come a time when conflicts between employees occur.

It’s a headache managers want to avoid and can avoid, but only when employees plan well in advance…

Set out your annual leave policy during the hiring/orientation process of new employees; highlight all peak periods during which time-off may be restricted, and if there are any conflicts with religious holidays or prior commitments, discuss them at the time to prevent surprises later on.

Ask employees to submit their requests for time off as early as possible (or set an early deadline) so that it can be determined whether you need to make arrangements for temporary staff on certain days/weeks. If temp-staff isn’t an option, encourage team members to work with each other to cover their colleague’s handover.

When quite a few employees request the same days off, most organisations will work on a first-come first-served basis as this tends to be the most fair system – and it ties in well with the-earlier-the-better philosophy.


The one thing that you should be stressing to your staff is not to book anything until the annual leave is authorised.

As an employee there is nothing worse than booking a holiday first and then being told either a) that week is fully booked off already so unfortunately we cannot authorise your request and we need you to work, or, b) I wasn’t going to authorise further requests for those dates but you can take it as unpaid leave if you cannot cancel your booking. #disaster


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