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Can Managers Deny Holiday Requests?

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Full-time employees in the UK are legally entitled to at least 28 days of annual leave under national employment law.

However, contrary to what many people think, employees cannot always take their annual leave when it suits them.

Below is a brief guide to the circumstances in which your annual leave application could be rejected.

Rejection of a vacation request

Employers often wonder whether you can reject a vacation request. The answer is yes, but they need to make sure they have a valid reason for it.

For example, you can reject a vacation request if it is inconvenient or inconvenient for the company, during a busy time of year, or when it would lead to under staffing.

Some employers also limit the number of vacation days employees can take at once, so if an employee wishes to take all of their annual vacation at once, a vacation request may be rejected. There may also be limits on how many employees can be released from work at the same time.

In some cases, the employer may force employees to take their annual leave at certain times of the year. For example, teachers have to take their vacation outside of school hours.

Although supervisors are not required to explain why they rejected a vacation request, it is always a good idea to provide a valid explanation. If they clearly state in their employment conditions in which cases vacation requests can be rejected, they will have a good basis for their argument.

However, things need to be handled consistently. If management denies a vacation request to one employee but not another, this could be viewed as discriminatory. And that can lead to legal problems.

Notice period

Employees who resign during this period and request their annual leave may also be rejected, particularly if they have not accumulated enough leave to take it.

The supervisor can reject the vacation request even if the employee has enough annual vacation, but must then provide financial compensation.

If an employee has used more vacation than they have accrued, the company is entitled to deduct the difference from their final salary.


When employees can take their annual leave - and how much notice they must give - is set out in the Working Time Regulations 1998.

According to these regulations, employees must register their vacation request for twice as long as the total duration of the requested vacation. A request for seven days of vacation requires at least 14 days' notice.

(The smaller and less formal the company, the more likely it is to vary these rules a bit, as late applications create less administrative burden - but it's best to assume everyone is in compliance).

Employees should not book travel or holidays until the application has been approved as they will not be entitled to compensation if the application is subsequently rejected.

The employer is also obliged to notify the rejection of a vacation request, as the regulation states. This corresponds to the same period in which the employee requested vacation. For example, if an employee requests two weeks of vacation, the employer must inform the employee at least two weeks in advance that their request has been rejected.

Although employees have the right to refuse a vacation request, managers must remember that employees have a legal right to take their vacation pay at a certain point during the year. In order to maintain good relations with staff and promote morale, it is better to accept requests for leave where reasonably possible.

While managers can deny holiday requests, it's crucial to do so fairly and consistently, adhering to legal regulations. IceHrm can help streamline leave management.

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