Managing Holiday Requests from Employees During the Christmas Season

The holiday season is said to be a time for joy, celebration, and spending quality time with loved ones.

However, for employers and holiday-authorising line-managers, it can also be a challenging time; managing holiday requests from employees while ensuring the smooth operation of the business.

Balancing diverse employee needs with your business demands can be a delicate task, but with the right strategies and a proactive approach, employers can navigate any holiday period successfully.

In this article, we will explore various ways employers can help manage holiday requests from employees over the Christmas (and any other holiday) period.

Establish Clear Holiday Policies

One of the fundamental steps in managing time-off requests is to have well-defined holiday policies in place.

These policies should outline the process for requesting time off, the criteria for approval, and any blackout dates when taking leave may be restricted. Make sure these policies are communicated clearly to all employees so they understand the process and expectations.

Encourage Early Request Submission

Encouraging employees to submit their holiday requests well in advance can help employers plan for potential staff shortages. Consider implementing a system whereby employees must submit their leave requests several weeks in advance, allowing employers to make necessary adjustments in shift patterns and workload scheduling.

Fairness and Equity

It goes without saying really that line managers should treat all requests fairly and equitably.

Avoid playing favourites or giving preferential treatment to certain employees. Be transparent in your decision-making process, and use objective criteria to approve or deny requests. Feedback to employees why time off has been denied and attempt to find a solution for both parties.

Cross-Training and Temporary Staffing

In order to cope with potential staff shortages, managers should consider cross-training employees in different roles within the organization. This flexibility can help ensure that even with some employees absent, essential tasks can still be completed.

Additionally, you might explore the option of hiring temporary staff during the holiday season to fill in any gaps.

Flexible Work Arrangements

In some cases, offering flexible work arrangements can be a win-win for both employers and employees.

Consider options like remote work, compressed workweeks, or flexible scheduling that can accommodate employees’ holiday plans while maintaining productivity.

See also: Remote Working

Employee Rotation

If your business can afford it, implement a rotating holiday schedule. This approach ensures that employees take turns having holidays off, reducing the burden on any single employee and promoting fairness.

For example: employee 1 gets to take Christmas off this year and employee 2 gets time off over New Year. Next year, employee 1 gets New Year off, whilst employee 2 enjoys a Christmas break.


Open and honest communication is key during the holiday season (and beyond). Regularly check in with employees to discuss their holiday plans and address any concerns or issues. Maintain a line of communication to handle unexpected circumstances or last-minute requests.


Consider offering incentives for employees who are willing to work during the holiday season, such as additional pay, extra time off in the future, or small rewards to show appreciation for their commitment.

Plan for Peak Periods

Identify early the peak periods of business activity during the holiday season and allocate staff accordingly. By focusing on key timeframes, you can ensure that the most critical tasks are covered while allowing flexibility during less busy periods.

Ultimately, managing holiday requests from employees over the Christmas period can be a challenge, but it is an essential aspect of maintaining a happy and productive workforce.

By establishing clear policies, encouraging early request submission, promoting fairness, and considering flexible work arrangements, employers can strike a balance that benefits both the business and its employees.

Effective planning and communication are the keys to a harmonious and festive holiday season in the workplace.