I was recently asked to advise a client on a case where an employee had ‘booked’ their holiday without getting authorisation first. The client had a very clear policy on holidays and authorisation, which clearly said that holiday must be authorised in advance. The client was unable to authorise the holiday as it would create operational problems because there was not adequate cover (due to other holidays and diary commitments).

With a clear policy in place, that had been communicated to all employees, my client was able to refuse the holiday. 

But the next problem was whether the employee would take the time off anyway, possibly by just taking the holiday or reporting in sick. To anticipate this, we wrote to the employee explaining why the absence could not be authorised, confirming they had not followed the correct authorisation procedure. Importantly we also confirmed that if they did take the time off despite this, any absence would be considered unauthorised.

Because our client also documented unauthorised absence as potential gross misconduct, the client was able to confirm that a possible consequence would be dismissal.

The client was able to have these options because their policies and procedures were well documented and had been communicated.

Our client did not wish to be unfair or onerous, but a business cannot operate effectively without clear ‘rules’ and procedures. It was also important that our client did not set a precedent as this may have caused the procedures to be diluted and other employees to take holiday without authorisation.

If you do not have clear procedures in place for holidays or you have not communicated these clearly, please give me a call and I can explain how this can be implemented.  One option will be to use

Angela Dansey.

You can contact Angela on

If you feel that you need guidance or advice on this matter, please call Practical HR on 01702 216573 or email Angela on the above.