The Annual Leave Hack!


No matter how much we love our job, everyone is always eager to put their out of office on and finally switch off!

Annual leave is a big part of employment law and the rules relating to annual leave are contained in the Working Time Directives, which in 2009, updated the minimum annual leave to 5.6 weeks for someone working 5 days a week, this equates to 28 days.

In recent years, “life hacks” have dominated the world of the internet and social media and this has resulted in an influx of hacks on how to strategically book annual leave in 2023 to maximize the number of days you can have off in the year.

Pair this with the additional bank holiday we will receive for the Kings Coronation on Monday, 8 May and this could really affect the number of days that will be worked this year and the productivity of your team.

In this scenario, what is the best way for employers to deal with annual leave requests?

Holiday Policy

A policy on annual leave and their contract will be the starting point for any employee that is looking to book their annual leave. Therefore, it is crucial that there is an up-to-datepolicy in place which is clear and easily accessible to all employees. The policy should let employees know what to expect, such as how to request time off, what they are entitled to, who will authorise the time off and how will they decide (for example where multiple team members request the same period of leave).

First come First Serve

In order to ensure fairness and avoid any conflict within employees, the best way to approach annual leave requests is on a first come first serve basis and if this is the approach that will be adopted, it is essential to ensure that this is included in your holiday policy, so employees are familiar with the process.

HR Channel

Consider using a HR channel, whereby all approved holidays are visible to the team. This will make booking and approving annual leave a swift process.


Ensure your holidays policy clearly reflects how much notice you require in order to approve annual leave, and should they need to book holiday on a shorter notice, what the correct procedure is.

Set a maximum number of days

It is essential to set out how many days annual leave an employee can take in one go. This will prevent employees from booking large blocks of holidays and make sure that all employees have a fair chance of booking annual leave and this is spread out evenly throughout the year. However, your policy should also include a provision for how to approach situations where employees require a longer break which includes who will manage these requests and how they should be requested.

Be clear from the outset

Employees should be aware of any periods or dates when they are not allowed to take annual leave – for example, many employers have a rule that no annual leave will be granted in December.

Alternatively, you may want employees to reserve annual leave for the days in between Christmas and New Year if you have a company-wide shut down – if so, ensure that employees are aware of this and that this is booked from the outset.

Offer alternatives

If you are unable to agree to an employee’s holiday request you could, if practical, offer them the opportunity to work remotely. This can work particularly well in between Christmas and New Year if your business is not shut for those days, as some employees may prefer to work remotely.

Regularly review annual leave requests

Proactively reviewing annual leave requests will help to identify any issues or conflicts at an early stage and will avoid any unwanted confrontation.

If you would like to speak to a member of our team about any of our services or if you are looking for an outsourced HR partner to assist in the management of your workforce or updating policies, please get in touch at



Please note this blog is for reference purposes only and is only accurate at the date it was published. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any action. Please contact us if you have any questions at

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