Leave management is one of the most sensitive tasks in HR management, if not the most challenging. Declining leave applications is an integral part of this job. The holiday season is often the peak time to receive leave applications from many workers. It’s essential to carefully manage these requests without offending employees in the company. While HR Policies and management procedures cannot possibly make everyone happy, there certainly are ways to smoothen the process.

From establishing solid reasons to ensuring the employee does not feel frustrated, this article will discuss the different ways to manage and decline leave applications.

Managing Leave Applications

First, let’s discuss some effective ways to make the leave management process easier.

Establish HR Policies for Leave Requests

HR professionals need to  clear and transparent rules for leave requests. Company staff should be aware of the leave submission and management process. Moreover, there needs to be an understanding of the need for specific rules and how they’ll help the employees.

A set of rules and a clear management process can help to avoid conflict among employees and also establish the HR department as competent and impartial in making decisions. Here are a few factors to consider when establishing guidelines for leave applications:

  • Times when leaves cannot be requested
  • Times when leaves can be requested
  • Frequency of consecutive leaves
  • Number of times leave requests can be made
  • Format and method of submitting leave applications

Manage Overlapping Leave Requests

During peak times, such as summers and holiday season, HR can receive multiple overlapping leave requests from the same department. This can be a hassle for efficient workplace management and can cause problems for employers.

You can nip the problem in the bud by creating an overlapping leave applications policy beforehand. It should establish the ground rules for how overlapping requests will be handled so there’s no resentment among employees later. Although all companies usually have their own hrms software modules and  policies, here are a few common rules for managing overlapping leave applications:

  • Hierarchy-based rejections (senior employees are prioritized)
  • First come, first serve
  • Feasibility: the final decision will be left to the manager, and overlapping requests might get approved depending on the feasibility.

Leave Applications: Rejecting Requests

Rejecting requests can be difficult because nobody wants to be the bad guy. Here are a few ways to diplomatically reject leave applications without coming off as inconsiderate or apathetic.

Consider Team Flexibility

This is a particularly effective method for managing overlapping leave applications. If you have some requests piled up from a single team, consider discussing the situation with the whole team. Employee flexibility is a great aspect of managing leave applications. You can discuss with the staff about everyone sharing responsibilities and adjusting their vacation plans. You never know; some people might have flexible schedules and won’t have an issue moving their requested days off to avoid overlapping.

Sharing responsibilities and covering for fellow employees is a great way to decline leave requests and accept others politely. It also fosters good relations among the staff and promotes healthy teamwork.

Provide Legitimate Business Grounds for Declining Leave Applications

Robust HR policies can help you decline requests, but they’re not so good at managing human emotions. It can be difficult to satisfy a disgruntled employee. However, you can provide legitimate business reasons for declining leave applications to ensure workers that you’re not showing any favoritism or bias in your decisions.

Moreover, an HR professional is an extension of their employer’s company. As such, it is their job to advocate for the company and consider every reason for a request that can or cannot be granted. There can be several circumstances under which a request cannot be processed, such as:

  • Shortage of on-job staff
  • Inability to hire new workers
  • Increased workload: some managers can be overly accommodating in granting overlapping leaves, which unfairly increases the workload on other employees.
  • Unsatisfactory employee performance history
  • Negative impact on business performance
  • Reduced ability to meet customer and client demands

Putting down every possible reason for rejecting leave applications ensures that all decisions and HR policies are strictly professional.

Understand the worker

Care goes a long way in promoting good workplace relations. Rejecting an employee’s leave request and acting indifferent can send the wrong message. It would help if you related to the leave applicant as a fellow employee. Try to remember a similar time when your leave application was rejected. It’s an often-ignored gesture that is crucial in diffusing tricky situations. In fact, empathizing with an employee or sharing their disappointment almost always helps dilute their resentment.

Decline Leave Applications in Person

It’s time to meet the employee after navigating HR policies and deciding to reject an applicant’s time-off request. Although we’ve become used to hybrid working models (remote plus on-site work), it’s best to decline leave applications in person.

Emails, text messages, and printouts are inanimate things that cannot accurately convey emotions. Important conversations should rather be had in person where people can easily read each other’s emotions. You can start by explaining the reasons behind why the request cannot be accommodated.

Moreover, a two-way conversation is an excellent way to reach a compromise or find alternative solutions, such as moving up the requested time-off date. A mutually beneficial decision or compromise helps HR to cater both the company and staff’s needs.

Final Word

Declining leave applications can be difficult, irrespective of how many HR policies are in place. However, using some of the above mentioned suggestions is a good way to navigate the tricky waters of leave management.

You can also use the best HRMS Software Solution in Canada offered by experts at Mirosysinc to maintain a system to decline leave applications without sending emails. SimplyHRMS is an effective web-based HRMS solution for small and medium-sized business enterprises, which helps them efficiently manage all HR operations, from maintaining attendance records to managing time-off requests!


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