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A guide to annual leave management during summer

19 July 2023 4 min read

managing staff holiday

Annual leave management during the summer can be more challenging than at other times of the year, given it’s a popular time for employees to take longer breaks from work.

It can present a few challenges, especially when business operations and routine tasks don’t slow down for the summer months. Having too many employees off at any one time can be damaging to productivity. Delayed projects, missed deadlines, miscommunication and added strain on employees having to cover for their absent colleagues are an unfortunate reality if annual leave is mismanaged.

We’ve compiled a list of best practice tips when it comes to good annual leave management.

Have a clear leave policy in place

Good annual leave management begins with having a clear policy in place, shared with everyone in your organisation.

A leave policy should include how employees can request leave – who do they ask, and how? Who can approve and deny leave requests?

It should also state how much notice employees should give when requesting leave. If an employee requests to go on leave tomorrow, most organisations would understandably struggle to manage that. Some workplaces ask for at least a week’s notice, and some ask for longer. In the UK, the notice period typically needs to be twice as long as the length of leave requested, plus 1 day. It’s whatever works for your organisation depending on the nature of your working patterns and company size.

Ensure that your policy is up to date and easily accessible for all employees, and shared with any new recruits.

Set minimum staffing rules

Ensure that you have rules in place, stated in your policy, for how many employees can be on leave at any one time from the same team.

Organisations that don’t have guidelines like this in place can easily find themselves with too many employees off at the same time, leading to resourcing problems.

If you don’t have good visibility over your teams’ leave either, it becomes very easy for multiple leave requests to be approved without first cross-checking with other planned leave dates within the same team or department.

Approve leave on a first-come-first-serve basis

When receiving multiple leave requests during the same period, such as summer or festive holidays, it’s good practice to respond to them on a first-come-first-serve basis to ensure fairness between employees. This way employees are encouraged to submit leave requests in plenty of time, giving the organisation ample notice and avoiding disappointment. People managers are also less likely to have to make difficult choices as to which requests to approve and which to decline.

Utilise group calendars

Having access to group calendars, like ours, will help dramatically by providing visibility of planned leave for a team or entire organisation. Being able to see who else is off, and whether this will clash with another employee’s leave request, will ensure that you’re no longer permitting too many staff members to be on holiday at any one time.

Employees are also empowered to take more control of their own leave – checking to see when their coworkers are planning to take leave and working in their requests around them to ensure continuity of work and output.

If you have to decline an annual leave request, explain why

Of course, not every annual leave request can be automatically approved. Resources have to be carefully managed so that operations can stay on track – so if you have to decline a request, ensure you give a reason as to why. This will help employees to understand why their request was denied and ease frustrations. People managers can also work with the employee to see if alternative dates would be suitable instead.

Automate your processes

Upgrading your approach to annual leave management by switching to automated processes will enable you to manage holiday requests and entitlement with ease, saving you time.

With edays, employees can submit leave requests via our mobile app or desktop. Managers receive an alert, and can quickly log in to check the request, see who else is off, and approve or decline the request as needed. No more paper forms or spreadsheets to cross-reference and manually update.

Staff holiday entitlements and usage are easily visible in one place, including that of part-time employees. And if your organisation offers custom types of leave, such as wellbeing or volunteering days, that’s covered too.

To find out more, book a free personalised demo of edays

Georgina at edays
July 19, 2023

Georgina Mackintosh is an accomplished copywriter and marketing professional with a background that spans several industries. Her writing focuses on HR topics such as employee wellbeing, engagement and experience - as well as absence management best practice, how-to guides and news from the HR sector.