When Can An Employer Refuse Annual Leave ?


This is an interesting question. If someone is employed on a permanent basis then they are entitled to 4 weeks paid annual leave, but does that mean an employee can take that leave anytime they like? Does the employer have a say, and on what grounds can a boss refuse annual leave?

Under the legislation of the National Employment Standards (NES), an employer “must not unreasonably refuse an employee’s request to take annual leave”.

So what is considered unreasonable?

Well, this is a bit of a grey area in the NES legislation and could potentially be interpreted different ways by different people. Maybe it’s best answered by taking a look at NES’s list of definitions regarding “reasonableness”.

  • The needs of the employee and the employer’s business
  • Any agreed arrangement with the employee
  • Custom and practice of the business
  • Timing of the direction or requirement to take leave
  • Reasonableness of the period of notice given

If we reverse the criteria in this list, then we can come up with some good arguments for why an employer can refuse an employee annual leave.

One of the most valid reasons would be if the employee wanted to take annual leave at very short notice. Sometimes there might be very good reason for suddenly needing to take leave, and this is something that will have to be negotiated between employer and employee, but generally an employee needs to give notice of their intention to take annual within a decent timeframe so the employer can make sure their position and workload can be covered in their absence.

Annual leave is accrued throughout the year and an employee doesn’t have to wait 12 months to take a holiday. After 3 months they have accrued one week of annual leave and, if agreed to by the employer, may take one week off. However, an employer can refuse annual leave if the employee has not yet been there 3 months, or if the employee is not yet entitled to the amount of annual leave they wish to take.


People First Solutions

Before you have employees who request annual leave, you first have to recruit suitable workers; employees that are keepers and accrue their annual leave entitlements. Being one of the best recruitment agencies on the Gold Coast, we have the experience and expertise to find you the very best candidates for your position, and with our varied selection of recruitment packages, there is something to suit every budget. Call us today for a consultation with one of our friendly staff.

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