Can an employer cancel leave which has already been granted?

Can an employer cancel leave which has already been granted?

Human Resources

What happens when an employee has applied for leave, their manager has approved the leave and then operational circumstances change and the employee is required on site? Can an employer cancel the employee’s leave?

In ordinary circumstances, an employer can (within reason) retract any leave based on operational requirements as leave is given at the employer’s discretion. If an employee then does not arrive at work, depending on the individual circumstances (for example if he/she is sick), they could be disciplined.

From an ethical perspective however, the employer should consider the circumstances for the leave before cancelling and also the impact of cancelling on the employee.

For example:

  • If the leave is important personally e.g. for an employee to attend his/her child’s wedding then it would have very negative long term consequences for the employee’s morale should the leave be cancelled;
  • If an employee has spent money on arranging travel and accommodation it would be inequitable to cancel the leave unless the employee is at the very least compensated for these expenses.

In these instances, we would consider the smart thing to do would be for employers to carefully consider whether it is really necessary to cancel the leave.