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Headlines, deadlines and check-in times. What do you do if you need to cancel an employee's leave?

by , 25 September 2014
William applied for leave a month ago. He assured you he'd have all his deadlines in check, and his work finished. So you approved it. He then paid for his romantic week away with his fiancé.

Everyone wins.

But it's now three days before he leaves, and he's nowhere near reaching his deadline. What now?

Do you let him go away? After all, you said he could have the days off. Or do you do the one thing you know is going to get him, and probably your other staff too, up in arms. That is, cancel his leave.

This is no easy decision to make, but you have customers that you need to keep happy. And let's face it, without these customers, William wouldn't have a job to come to anyway!
So, you do the one thing you just know is going to cause issues... You tell him he can't have those days off anymore...

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How to tell an employee he can't have his leave anymore

To be honest, if you both agreed that he could go only if he'd reached his deadline, then it's a case of 'Sorry for you William'. And you're within your rights to cancel his leave.
But as a word of caution, I'd say you're probably better off getting a clear and, reasonable agreement in writing with William that says he won't be allowed to go on leave if he hasn't met his deadlines. 
Then you can say he can't go on leave. And if he still goes on leave, you can take action against him for being absent without permission.

So... What happens if he's paid for his holiday?


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Are you then responsible to reimburse the employee for the money he's already paid?

No. William agreed to meet his deadlines, and the fact that he didn't  rests on his own shoulders. You are within your right to cancel his leave and he will forfeit any money he already paid. This is not your problem.
Having said that though, I repeat... Get his agreement in writing! Even if it is an informal email, that way he'll know you're serious.
This may seem like harsh reality, and with today's technology, you could make an exception if he agrees to work while on leave and to still meet his deadline, let him go.
But then I ask... What regard remains left for deadlines, performance and instructions if he hasn't fulfilled his end of the bargain?
However, if there's no such agreement in place, you have no right to cancel his leave once you have granted it. Your only option then would be to negotiate a mutually satisfactory solution with him.

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