There’s nothing like a row over holiday dates and managing staff leave to cause a bad atmosphere at work – although one stylist at hairdresser Toni & Guy may have taken her dissatisfaction a step too far.

According to the Daily Telegraph, an employment tribunal recently heard how hairdresser Marijana Jovanova-Bacon was sacked after allegedly deleting a batch of client bookings at the group’s Maidenhead salon.

The cancellations (which she denies making) were apparently made after a ‘disagreement’ over holidays. The stylist thought she had holiday left to take, but the salon records showed she had used up her holiday entitlement.

At the time of writing, the hearing was still on-going, but it’s a case that illustrates the importance of getting it right when it comes to holidays and managing staff leave correctly.

It goes without saying that businesses need to have HR systems in place that allows them to keep an accurate record of how much holiday an individual employee has taken. But there’s also the issue of managing conflicting holiday demands. As many of you will no doubt have already discovered, the peak school holiday season provides fertile ground for dispute and disagreement.

Working parents are not only constrained to that crucial six week period, but often have to co-ordinate with their partner’s holiday dates too. Those who haven’t been savvy enough to bag their slot months in advance end up disappointed – and often disgruntled with the manager who has refused the request. Bad feeling starts to simmer beneath the surface and it’s all too easy for resentment to set in against their employer or even against colleagues who they perceive may have been treated differently.

Of course it’s not just an issue that arises with working parents. I personally have been witness to an almighty office row that erupted when one employee who didn’t have children felt her requests for time off over Christmas were pushed to the back of the queue in favour of colleagues with young families.

It’s a minefield for managers, who have to juggle with these conflicting demands, whilst also making sure that essential work and services are covered over the peak holiday period.

As with most workplace issues, good communication is the key. If employees are crystal clear about the arrangements for requesting holidays, disagreements are less likely to arise from managing staff leave. If they have access to their own holiday records, via a central or self-service system, there won’t be any misunderstandings or surprises over entitlement. Of course if managers have the tools, like an absence management software, to plot holidays and get an overview of the impact on their team, they are in a much better position to make considered judgements about which requests to accept and which they have to regretfully decline.

So are holidays and managing staff leave a cause of dispute in your business? We’d be interested to hear about how you manage entitlement while also keeping the peace…

Erika Lucas author image

Erika Lucas

Writer and Communications Consultant

Erika Lucas is a writer and communications consultant with a special interest in HR, leadership, management and personal development. Her career has spanned journalism and PR, with previous roles in regional press, BBC Radio, PR consultancy, charities and business schools.