Case Confidential – Accommodating Holiday Requests

Childcare assistants to child ratios are essential to adhere to within a nursery environment; therefore it is critical that nursery managers and owners make resource planning an essential part of their role. Balancing the need for staff to take their holiday and accommodating other unexpected absences can make this difficult to achieve as a nursery manager found.

Holiday request

The nursery manager found herself in a difficult situation in relation to a holiday request presented by her employee Jane. Jane approached the manager on a Monday morning and asked for a week’s annual leave, to start the following week. It was in the run up to Christmas and the rotas had been agreed in advance as it was often a contentious time where many employees wanted the same time off. With this in mind and the fact that another employee had just been signed off on long term sick the manager decided to decline the request.

Jane reacted badly to this and approached the manager to discuss the matter. She understood that the rules around Christmas time off were quite clear and the rotas had been set in advance using a ballot process, but she felt the manager was being unnecessary difficult about the request and that she had on previous occasions agreed holiday in similar circumstances. This wasn’t the case as there had been many difficulties over the Christmas period previously and therefore the manager had always ensured she prepared the rota with significant advanced warning and had clear rules as to the methods used for holiday selection.

Jane was very unhappy that the request had been declined as her mother had booked a surprise week in Lapland for her whole family, which was to be a once in a lifetime treat. Unfortunately, as it was a surprise, she had been unable to give any more notice. She told the manager that she would be going whether she was granted permission or not. The manager asked if there was any way the holiday could be rearranged for another time, and offered times which were less detrimental to the nurseries operational requirements. Jane was adamant that she could not do this.

Working time

Upon seeking advice from Croner on how to deal with situation, the manager was advised to discuss the matter with Jane and make it clear that under their holiday rules the nursery had the right to decline holiday without adequate notice and indeed under the Working Time regulations the employer always has the right to decline any annual leave request if the business cannot accommodate it. Additionally she had not given the required amount of notice under the Working Time regulations of double the amount of time requested to take as the notice period.

The manager did have some sympathy for Jane and the advisor from Croner suggested that before she took further action she could see if anyone was willing to swap with Jane. Failing that the manager was advised to inform Jane again of the decision to decline the annual leave and was told that she was required to attend work as arranged. This should be put in writing to her with the specific consequences of her not attending work clearly spelt out, namely that if she did not attend and the absence turned out not to be genuine that disciplinary action may be taken which could result in the termination of her employment.

Luckily one of Jane’s colleagues Christmas plans had changed and she was happy to work instead of Jane to enable her to have the holiday, so the situation was resolved in an amicable way without the need to resort to any formal action. Jane was extremely grateful and willing to work Christmas the following year, plus some additional times which had been previously difficult to cover. 

The Croner-i Early Years Toolkit for dot2dot provides further information and guidance on an employer’s rights to refuse a holiday request in addition to a model policy which is available to download. All dot2dot customers can access this by visiting and entering your registered email and password.

Don’t forget dot 2 dot members also have access to Croner’s team of employment law experts through their Helpline to assist you with this subject or any other HR issue. Simply call them on 0844 561 8111. Calls cost 7p per minute plus your telephone company’s access charge.

If you are not currently a dot2dot customer and are interested in a free trial of the Croner-I Early Years Toolkit then please do not hesitate to contact the dot2dot team on 01204 570 390.


Stanmore Ins Staff
Jackie Hyde