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What do you do if you need to cancel an employee's leave?

by , 29 November 2013
It happens every year, you get your employees' end of the year forms in, approve them and then disaster strikes. You have a major emergency or your employee misses a crucial deadline and now you have to tell him he'll have to work. But can you legally do it?

Cancelling your employees leave is never fun, but sometimes it is necessary.

That's why we asked Labour Watch Newsletter's Taryn Strugnell what you should do.

Employee leave – how to cancel it

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

Obviously, you're going to tell him he can't go anymore.

But how do you tell him that?

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

If both you and your employee agreed that his leave was based on the condition that he'd meet his deadline, you're well in your rights to cancel it.

But be careful! If you don't have this condition in writing, your employee could fight it. So make sure you get it either in letter or email form. That way, if he still goes on leave, you can take action against him for being absent without permission.

If you cancel your employees leave, are you responsible to reimburse the employee for the money he's already paid for it?

The short answer is 'No!'

If your employee agreed to the leave condition, the fact that he didn't meet it rests squarely on his own shoulder. 'You're within your right to cancel his leave and he'll have to forfeit any money he already paid,' adds Strugnell.

But once again, this will only work if you get his agreement to the condition in writing.

Unfortunately, if you don't, you don't have the right to cancel his leave. Your only option will be to negotiate a mutually satisfactory outcome – in writing of course.

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