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Time off requests - can employers approve some but deny others?

Our client receives a lot of time off requests around the holidays, more than they can approve. Can they approve some but deny others?
Woman updated schedule chalkboard

In general, yes. We recommend having a policy for time off that explains how employees can request time away from work and what criteria the company uses to approve or deny requests. For example, you might base approvals on the order in which requests came in, the seniority of those requesting time off, the needs of the business, or some combination of these. Whatever your policy, take care that it doesn’t adversely affect members of certain protected classes. If male employees, for example, had their time requests granted more often than female employees, you could be looking at a discrimination claim.

If the holidays are either busier than usual or a more popular time for time off requests, you might consider a rotating holiday schedule or a set up where employees can sign up for an extra day off either before or after the holiday.

It’s also a good idea to specify how employees will know if their request has been granted and ensure that your managers understand your time off approval process.

This Q&A does not constitute legal advice and does not address state or local law.

Our HR Team members can help you navigate through any employee-related questions or issues you may have. To learn how to get started, or for any additional assistance, contact us!


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