Effective Strategies for Managing Annual Leave Requests During the Christmas Season

Managing annual leave requests can be a challenging task, especially during the busy Christmas season. As a business, it’s important to handle these requests efficiently to ensure a fair and balanced distribution of time off. In this article, we will explore effective strategies for managing annual leave requests over Christmas and provide tips to alleviate the associated stress.

Annual leave during Christmas

Annual leave during Christmas

Communicate Christmas Shutdown in Advance:

If your company has a planned Christmas shutdown, it’s crucial to inform employees well in advance. Ideally, this information should be included in employment contracts, ensuring employees are aware of the expected time off from the moment they join the organisation. Utilise absence management/HR software to pre-book the necessary days off for employees, preventing them from utilising their leave elsewhere throughout the year.

Addressing the Lack of Christmas Leave Clause:

While it’s not mandatory to have a specific Christmas leave clause in employment contracts, it’s important to provide employees with adequate notice. Law states you should provide at least twice the amount of notice as the number of days of holiday you want employees to take. For example, if you require them to take 4 days off over Christmas, provide them with at least 8 days’ notice. However, be mindful that short notice may result in employee dissatisfaction. Communicate the requirement to save holiday well in advance, considering the practicality of employees having sufficient leave remaining in their holiday allowance.

Managing Busy Periods and High Demand for Leave:

If your business experiences high demand during the festive season, it’s essential to establish clear guidelines for annual leave. Communicate these guidelines in advance, preferably through employment contracts. One option is to allocate leave based on a first-come, first-served basis. Alternatively, you can request employees to submit their leave requests as early as possible, considering business needs and fairness when fulfilling each request. Implement a system to track annual leave each year, ensuring a fair distribution of leave among employees.

Retracting Granted Annual Leave Requests:

Reversing a previously approved annual leave request is not advisable unless faced with a business-critical emergency. If you need to retract leave, be prepared to compensate employees for any financial losses incurred due to holiday bookings or travel arrangements. Additionally, consider the impact on staff morale that such a decision may have.

Encourage Early Submission of Leave Requests:

Encourage employees to submit their annual leave requests well in advance of the Christmas season. This allows for better planning and scheduling. Regularly review the amount of leave taken by employees throughout the year to ensure a balanced distribution.

Proactive Approaches to Leave Management:

Take a proactive approach to managing annual leave by encouraging employees to utilise their leave throughout the year. If you require leave to be spread evenly across the year for adequate coverage, communicate this to employees and provide reminders periodically.

Streamlined Processes and Effective Communication:

Develop well-written employment contracts that clearly outline annual leave policies. Establish effective internal communication channels to keep employees informed about leave procedures and any updates. Implement a streamlined process for leave submission, review, and tracking. Utilise absence management/HR software to facilitate easy leave requests and provide a comprehensive view of approved and remaining leave.


Managing annual leave requests during the Christmas season can be a complex task, but with effective strategies in place, it can be handled smoothly. By communicating expectations in advance, addressing lack of specific clauses, and implementing fair allocation methods, HR professionals can successfully manage annual leave and reduce associated stress. Encourage early leave submissions, promote proactive leave management, and utilise streamlined processes and HR software to streamline the process and ensure a fair and balanced distribution of time off.

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