An illustration of a giant calendar with a sticky note labelled 'Annual Leave' stuck in the centre. There is a woman to the right of the calendar walking with a suitcase.
Image: © Vadym/

Should employees with kids be prioritised when allocating time off?

17 Aug 2023

BrightHR’s Alan Price advises employers on whether or not parents should be prioritised when granting time off for the summer.

The summer months can be a logistical nightmare for you. Especially when all of your employees want the same time off.

Because at some point, you’re going to have to let someone down. And that can feel even worse when the person is a parent, as you don’t want to be the reason why they cancel their annual camping trip or fork out high fees for a babysitter.

So, should you prioritise parents when approving summer holiday requests? Let’s enlighten you.

Who gets priority?

In short, no one.

You should treat all your staff equally, especially when approving holiday requests. Because you don’t want to be seen to favour parents over your other staff.

That could land you in hot water with non-parents as they could accuse you of unfair treatment.

Click here to go to the BrightHR website.

So how should I handle annual leave requests fairly?

Try to remember that it’s not up to you to decide who’s more deserving of the time off.

For example, if one of your employees has booked last-minute flights to Ibiza and the other wants a week off to go camping with their kids, you shouldn’t decide who gets the time off based on their plans.

Instead, put a process in place to make sure that annual leave gets shared out equally.

What type of process are we talking about?

Well, a lot of companies operate a first-come, first-served basis as it’s great for giving staff a level playing field.

But it does have its drawbacks. For example, there’s always going to be one employee who books all the popular days off at the start of the year, leaving their co-workers to pick up the scraps.

To get around this, you should come up with a creative way to allocate popular days. You could let your employees pull names out of a hat to decide who gets August bank holiday Monday off or rotate who gets first dibs on Christmas Eve.

By Alan Price

Alan Price is the CEO at BrightHR and COO at the Peninsula Group. A version of this article was previously published on the BrightHR blog.

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