Summer is peak season for vacation requests and if you’re one of those managers who has leave forms piling up on their desk, you might find yourself in the unfortunate position of having to decline a few. So let’s brush up on some managerial etiquette on how to diplomatically decline leave requests.

1. Establish the Business Grounds for Declining the Request

Firstly, make sure you’re refusing the request based on business grounds and not showing favouritism. There are many circumstances in which a manager is unable to accept a leave request based on reasonable business grounds, such as:

  • Inability to cover work with existing staff
  • Inability to hire additional staff
  • Negative effect on ability to meet customer demand
  • Negative impact on company performance
  • Insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work

After you’ve investigated alternatives and concluded that you can’t possibly grant the leave, it’s time to have a private conversation.

2. Decline the Request in Person

When declining a request, it’s best to do it in person if possible. Explain to the employee why the business cannot accommodate the request based on the business grounds you identified. Then mutually discuss when might be an alternative time to take the leave. The aim should be to reach a compromise with mutual respect kept intact.

When it comes to managing your employees’ annual leave it’s important to keep a firm eye on the bigger picture. Many managers can be too accommodating and allow for too many employees to take leave at the same time. This can add an unfair amount of workload on those employees who are still working, with detrimental effects on business performance for the period.

If you do want to accommodate as much leave as possible, consider hiring temporary staff to ease the pressure and help your business continue smoothly.