Last year our company changed the policy to neither carry forward employee annual leave days nor reimburse them. Eventually everyone has to 'use up' their full leave for a calendar year.

The deadline for availing leaves is very near and most of the employees still have more than half of their leave days in the bag. Good thing is that every one has applied for leaves and willing to avail them from beginning of this announcement. But, due to workload, managers of the departments are not approving the leaves (or only allowing short leaves). HR and Admin on the other end don't want to hear the employee case and keep telling that all leaves will be nullified.

What should be the best way to deal with this type of situation? No one wants their leaves to get void but managers are not approving them and HR/Admin is not willing to give some relaxation in the policy.

  • 4
    I'm not sure what to suggest for the near future, but one thing to consider for the long term may be to change leave policies so that employees don't all have the same holiday year. For example, in my company, each person's holiday year starts in the month of their birthday. That way, people use up their remaining holiday at different times of year and you don't end up with a rush for holiday time.
    – user29632
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 11:42
  • I am working in middle east. @RaduMurzea I have worked in many companies in Pakistan but never got this experience. Also the manager is from Europe.
    – rizzz86
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 18:20

5 Answers 5


I worked in this type of environment a long time ago. We were given a lump sum of vacation days on April 1st and any hours from the previous year were lost. All leave had to be be approved in writing. (though there was a separate pool for sick days that rolled over and didn't need advanced approval)

The key to get days rolled over was the approval sheets. If a manager rejected X days then the employee could roll over the same number of days. Managers were unlikely to reject vacation days unless everybody was asking for the same days off, and there was a requirement to have no fewer than a specific number of staff each day. Managers who rejected vacation days were not graded highly by both their employees and their manager. Employees don't like to see days rejected, and managers don't like to see extra vacations days on the books.

A plan in which the employee doesn't control when they take vacation, and when a manager has an interest in maximizing the number of hours you work will always lead to the same place you are: expiring leave.

You must remain calm and avoid the temptation to just take leave anyway, or everybody call in sick the same day: you could lose your job.

You as a group have to document the rejected leave. The best cases are ones that have asked for more days than the leave allowed. If you are allowed 10 days leave, and somebody suggested 10 different times to take a 4 day weekend, and all were rejected: the company will have a hard time saying they waited to the last minute, and they were the same days everybody wanted.

Look back to when the new policy was announced. Are there comments or documents that discuss this situation. Sometimes management has trouble seeing where holes in a new policy are, and they need to be reviewed once they are in place. The other possibility does exist: they knew this was a big possibility and the plan is working as expected.

I considered suggesting that you ask for documentation of when upper management took leave and who approved it, but that could backfire. They might not take leave, or they could decide you are just stirring up trouble.

  • You are right that we have to document the rejected leaves and this is what we are doing and making this a base to find some solution. Still the issue remains same. Most of the employees have already planned to take leaves anyway before the expiry time, they are now fed-up with the way management is handling the case. The case has been raised so many times without any solution.
    – rizzz86
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 19:44
  • @rizzz86 - Before you decide to go that route. Those employees can be fired. The fact their leave was not approved and leave expires and does not carry over isn't justification of not coming into work. The company could in theory fire those people with cause.
    – Donald
    Commented Feb 15, 2015 at 17:43
  • @Ramhound agree with you. This is not the right path to go on.
    – rizzz86
    Commented Feb 15, 2015 at 19:46

What should be the best way to deal with this type of situation

Both parties are just doing their job. It's HRs job to make you take your leave. It's your boss' job to make sure the project gets done. But those goals conflict and you are caught in the middle.

Set up a meeting with both your boss and a HR representative. Make sure you come across as constructive and tell them you are willing to either take your leave or have it prolonged. Let them decide what's the priority and let them come up with a long term solution or policy.

  • honestly the bigger issue is if they expire the time after rejecting the leave. Say I want Christmas to New Years off to be with family. It's a valid issue if I wait to request it only a week or two before, still if it's rejected it shouldn't expire a week later. Many companies in this situation tend to roll over the rejected time in "good faith". Some won't, but usually they are ones that ask you to request PTO at least three weeks to a month in advance. (so they can plan projects around when people won't be there) Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 17:59
  • I would love if both parties sit and resolve the issue and come up with something practical for now and later decide the revised long term policy.
    – rizzz86
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 19:01
  • 2
    While it's the boss's job to make sure the project gets done, the end date of "done" should account for employee leave, training and other nonproductive time. Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 19:18
  • @LaconicDroid yes, should. In a perfect world, this problem should not be a problem at all, but there is no perfect world.
    – nvoigt
    Commented Feb 14, 2015 at 11:31

The deadline for availing leaves is very near and most of the employees still have more than half of their leave days in the bag

Interesting that most answers talk about rollover when this is the crux of the problem.

If the stated policy is not to carry, the onous is on the employee to plan and agree this in good time. I've been in companies like this, I would get written agreement at the start of the period for all my main planned leave, keeping a moderate number of days for flexible use. You know when Christmas or other fixed holidays are, why wait until a week before then feeling aggrieved when they say no. The managers can usually accomodate if they can plan it in, so earlier the better.

Leave half your leave until last week of the holiday period, I've no sympathy I'm afraid, you knew the risks.

I always ask my teams to at least "pencil in" dates for major leave at the beginning of the year ("a week in the first half of Sept" is enough resolution for me), if I can deal with resource issues months in advance ("do you guys have any flexibility as all three of you want off the same time", or get extra resource lined up) I'm more likely to say yes to what you want, and if I expect customers to let me know their plans months in advance, I should be doing the same for my team's capability/availability.

  • 2
    I don't like this answer, but it's correct. A no-rollover policy does mean "use it, lose it, or if your manager is kind s/he can cheat a few days across the line as flextime. It's the employees ' responsibility to handle this approximately. " And remember that being granted any particular day as vacation is at the manager's discretion subject to the needs of the business, so you really do want to plan ahead for anything important.
    – keshlam
    Commented Feb 14, 2015 at 19:22
  • But it does seem that all employees applied for vacation time as soon as the new policy was announced. Did you two not read this part from his post??? "Good thing is that every one has applied for leaves and willing to avail them from beginning of this announcement." In any case, the manager should never be the final judge for this kind of thing. For instance, if we were talking about money instead of work-days. Would a manager be allowed to spend more money than allocated by his yearly budget? Or would a CFO take the authority away from a manager who isn't capable of managing his own budget. Commented Feb 15, 2015 at 8:23
  • 1
    Stephan Brancyzk - I did read it, but also "Last year our company changed the policy", so I'm assuming it wasn't December when it changed (at least for the same year). If they did change it in December for the same year then getting your holiday leave is probably the least of your problems with the company as they probably apply the same underhand business practices across the board. Commented Feb 15, 2015 at 19:06
  • I disagree in every way with this answer. Vacation time is part of the compensation package. It is not a privilege to be granted by management at their whim. It is a contractual obligation. Denying your leave (and then taking it away from you entirely) is no different than the employer deciding they don't want to pay you for any particular week that you worked. If an employee wants to take leave then it is the manager's job to figure out how to meet the business need. It is not the employee's job to do so.
    – Dunk
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 21:42
  • @Dunk - if they change your terms and conditions and you've not disputed it, then you've accepted it. I would make a strong arguement if an employer changed my t&c to change to use it or lose it, but as the question works on this having happened, you need to take control or stop complaining. Many contries do not have a right of holiday leave time, so unless you have a contractual guarentee, you need to work according to the rules of the system. Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 23:20

This is a legal issue. You should seek legal counsel in Pakistan. In Europe, companies wouldn't be allowed to do this. Even in the US, many States have laws against this kind behavior from companies.

At the very least, you should document this impossible situation you're being placed in, and send a carefully crafted email to both your manager and the HR person explaining the situation to both of them at the same time and asking for a resolution.

Essentially, you should frame your message exactly the same way nvoigt already suggested.

Make sure you come across as constructive and tell them you are willing to either take your leave or have it prolonged. Let them decide what's the priority and let them come up with a long term solution or policy.

But you should do this in writing, because whether the email discussion goes your way, or doesn't go your way, you need to maintain documentation of what happened, and you need to print it and keep a copy of it at home for safekeeping.

Because even if your manager gives in and promises that you can take some extra time off next year (without needing to formally go through HR), you would need to document that kind of promise.

Even if you trust your manager implicitly, it would be very easy for a family emergency, or another opportunity, or a corporate takeover/reorganization, to take him away from you as your current manager, and any new manager probably wouldn't be aware of any promises the previous manager had made to you (or perhaps, could be aware of such promises, but could choose not to honor them since they had been made against HR policy by someone else).


Call in sick. Get a doctors note at the appropriate time. Then take legal advice. If your company has created a quagmire of policy then that is their problem. Presumably in your jurisdiction you are legally required to be given your allotted holidays or to be paid for them.

  • This just uses sick leave. If he isn't sick then it would be unethical of a doctor to provide a doctor's note. Its also unethical to say your are sick when you are not sick. Being unethical often is enough for cause to be fired from a job
    – Donald
    Commented Feb 15, 2015 at 21:18

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