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HR Guide: How to Handle Employee Leave Requests

Mohamad Danial bin Ab. Khalil
by Mohamad Danial bin Ab. Khalil
Aug 17, 2020 at 4:10 PM

There are always problems when it comes to managing leaves. It's probably not the hardest part of your job, but it's definitely up there. It's a near-impossible task to keep everyone happy while also making sure the organisation runs smoothly. 

But there are ways to make the process a lot easier to handle. Here are seven ways to manage leave applications:

 

1. Set rules for leave requests

There are two words that are important when it comes to the process of managing leave requests: transparency and clarity. Every personnel should know and understand the rules the HR department has set up to manage the organisation's leave requests.

The leave management process should be clear and everyone has to understand how it works. A clear process will avoid conflict among staff and shows that you respect your employees and their time.

Here's a guideline to help you make rules for leave requests:

  1. How requests should be submitted
  2. When employees can request leave
  3. When employees can’t request leave (e.g., special events)
  4. How far in advance a leave request needs to be made
  5. How often leave requests can be made

 

2. Create a policy for overlapping leave requests

There will be overlapping leave requests, especially when it's close to the holidays. This pile of leave requests can cause a lot of problems for employees and employers alike. 

An easy way to solve these issues before they happen is by creating a policy that outlines how overlapping leave requests will be managed. That way, everyone will understand why employee A got their leave request approved while employee B did not. 

The policy you create for your organisation may be different than other companies, but that is alright. What is important is to always do what is right for you and your employees. Here are some popular policies for managing overlapping leave requests: 

  1. First come, first served
  2. Seniority-based (priority is given to more senior employees)
  3. Employee flexibility (the employee can re-adjust their leave request to suit both employer and employee's needs)
  4. Managerial discretion (the manager will decide if it's feasible for two employees to take leave on the same day)

three persons using phones
Nowadays, employees can also submit their leave applications on HR apps.

3. Make an application form that everyone should use

When scheduling leave requests, your organising skill is at play. The worst process for leave request is when one employee talks to you directly about requesting leave, while the second employee writes their request on a piece of paper. 

By standardising the leave request process, every employee will use the same way to request for leave. What better way than to use an application form. The form should include: 

  1. The employee’s name
  2. Date request is made
  3. Leave requested (date range and/or hour range)
  4. Reason for leave
  5. Employee’s signature
  6. Manager’s signature
  7. Approval/denial confirmation
  8. Date request approved or denied

If you need a template, you can download it here.

 

4. Make the application process easier for employees

An easy leave application process will ease everyone's mind. If your rule says that the employee has to fill out a leave request form and hand it to you in person, ensure that you re available during office hours. If it's not possible, you can consider putting a leave request box where employees can drop their leave applications. Remember to check the box often so you don't miss any request.

You can also use digital solutions to manage your leave applications with local HR software such as Kakitangan and altHR. Every employee can submit their requests at any time by using their laptops or phones as long as they have access to the internet. 

 

5. Keep all of the leave applications in one place

There's nothing worse than having an employee come to you wondering about their leave application while you have no idea what they're talking about. With paper copies of leave applications, it can be very hard to keep track of them all unless you are good at organising. 

If you are using paper request forms, a binder or folder can keep everything in one place. Digital solutions can also organise all the leave applications in one place. 

person writing form
A standardised form will make it easier for your employees to apply for leave.

6. Allow employees to find their replacements

Another way to make the leave request process easier is to allow employees to find their replacements (also known as shift trades). If you allow shift trades, you should establish in your employee handbook the guidelines for this responsibility.

  1. All replacements should be approved by the HR or a manager. This is to make sure that the right skill mix is present during all shifts.

  2. Make sure that employees understand that the replacement should be someone who can do the same job as them. 

As employees learn to identify the criteria you use when approving a replacement, they will get better at finding the right substitute on the first try. When that happens, your responsibility is reduced and the leave application process gets easier.

 

7. Plan for emergencies

The best plan for these types of situations includes a group of trusted and reliable part-time workers than you can call on in an emergency.

These part-time workers can help fill in when leave requests are at their highest or when an employee has an emergency leave while other employees are unavailable. 

 

That concludes the seven ways to manage leave requests. You will find it much easier to manage leave applications once you follow these steps. Your employees will also thank you for making it the application process simpler. 

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Source: Sling

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