How To Manage Staff Leave Over The Holidays And Avoid A Nightmare Before Christmas

How To Manage Staff Leave Over The Holidays And Avoid A Nightmare Before Christmas

Christmas – a time for festivities and fun, but for many HR departments it’s often a time when employee leave headaches rear up. Nobody wants a ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ ruining the festive cheer – but of course, it doesn’t have to! There are simple ways to ensure managing staff holidays over the Christmas period is a stress-free experience.

The festive period is a busy time for leave requests. It’s not only the predictable period between Christmas Eve and New Years that staff members seek to have time off. It’s also the weeks approaching the critical period and the early weeks of January, when trips abroad are a tempting post-Yule Tide treat.

Employees even look to change their work schedules. In fact, UK-based Seareach discovered that 75% of 3,000 surveyed office workers would prefer switching to flexible working hours over the Christmas period, with 51% of that number plumping for working from home.


The Nightmare HR Faces

Even if only skeleton staff are needed over the holiday period, HR needs to consider a raft of practical and regulatory issues:

  • How much in annual leave entitlements has already been used up this year?
  • How much in annual leave entitlements remains?
  • Of the time off already taken, how much is down to extra entitlements, like maternity or paternity breaks, disability leave, shared parental leave?
  • How many unplanned leave days have already been taken, like sick leave?
  • What are the minimum staffing requirements for the particular business or department being affected?
  • What specific regulations and conditions are relevant (sometimes including those in foreign territories)?

Just to get to grips with these issues requires some detailed cross-referencing, checking and re-checking. In fact, it is practically impossible today to adequately address these points without using employee leave software that can automatically handle it.

With our own AnnualLeave software, for example, all of the regulatory, practical and entitlement data can be entered, allowing the programme to calculate in real time for each employee.

This removes the fear of error and because request submissions are logged immediately and employees can see what time off they are still entitled to, the processing time is slashed dramatically.


4 Ways To Successfully Managing Christmas Leave

Thankfully, there are some simple steps to avoid such nightmares and to successfully manage the Christmas leave period.

    1. Make Christmas Operations Clear

It’s important that lines are drawn clearly in plenty of time to ensure all employees understand how the company is going to operate over the Christmas period. This includes whether Christmas Eve is a half or full day, and how big a staff is needed between Christmas and New Year. If everyone knows, confusion and anger becomes less likely.

    1. Encourage Early Planning

Let staff know that late holiday requests are less likely to be accepted, but of course give them plenty of time. Besides, you want to avoid someone looking for all 16 weeks of their remaining employee leave entitlements over Christmas, don’t you?

    1. Make The Most Of Technology

As we mentioned earlier, technology can be extremely useful in ensuring managing Christmas leave requests run smoothly. The great advantage is the automatic adjustments that some leave management software make, ensuring every employee’s time off is tracked accurately and avoiding chaotic situations.

    1. Clear Reasoning

To avoid ill-feeling, it’s essential that any request refusals are clearly understood by employees. The worst thing to do is simply say ‘No’. Most people understand they might miss out, but showing due respect makes a big difference. So, always have a definite reason ready.


From automatically handling an extensive range of leave types to customizing your leave categories to suit your own operation, AnnualLeave boasts a range of key features designed to make a HR manager’s life that little bit easier.

To find out how it can turn your staff leave over Christmas – and throughout the year – into a festive dream and not a nightmare, book a demo today.

About the Author

AnnualLeave is a leading employee leave management tool on the market, lifting the HR headache by cutting request processing times, monitoring leave trends, and maintaining company compliance all with one user-friendly, affordable self-service app. For more information you can get in touch with one of our team via our online form or email at

Comments are closed.