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You can't delay an employee's leave to get a project finished - here's why

by , 17 July 2015
At the beginning of the year, the previous CEO of a company agreed to your employee, Rosie, going on an overseas holiday in October.

Since this agreement, you've taken over as the new CEO of the company and refuse to give Rosie time off. You have, however, offered to pay for all expenses she might incur in cancelling her trip. You've also promised to give her paid leave at a later stage. Her leave in October would've been unpaid.

You made this decision because the company's in financial trouble and you can't have any employees off duty with the big number of orders you have coming in. There won't be enough time to teach someone else to do the work you need Rosie to do before year-end. Rosie doesn't want to have her approved leave taken away from her. You're stressed. Here's what you can rightfully do...

You CAN'T break an already-made agreement
Unfortunately, while what you're asking of Rosie seems fair due to your company's financial position, once someone who has the authority to grant leave approves it, there's an agreement in place.
What I mean by this is you can't now force to take Rosie's leave away from her, unfortunately. Legally, you can't just unilaterally cancel her leave, even though you're now the one in power.
So, arguably, if you do try doing this, Rosie can hold you to the deal in terms of which she was granted leave.

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You can only ask the employee to change her arrangements
Because you can't tell Rosie what to do, you can only ask her nicely. Explain to her that you really need her come year-end for the following reasons, and perhaps she'll understand and cancel her trip to be at work.
If she still doesn't want to cancel her trip, however, she doesn't have to – and there's unfortunately nothing you can do about.

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