Why Your Leave Applications are Rejected

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Holidays are fun. Applying for leave… a mixed bag of anxiety and impatience for most. Read more to find out why your leave applications are rejected (and how to fix it).


It’s that time of year again when we start thinking about applying for annual leave in order to take a break and enjoy the holidays alone or with loved ones. Some of us plan for the perfect getaway while some of us plan to catch up on necessary sleep. We love painting the perfect scenario whereby our leave applications are magically approved, but that’s sometimes not the case in reality.

Imagine planning for a long time only to be told by HR that your application was rejected. But what if you knew the things to avoid in order to enhance your approval rate? That feels like a work hack to me! 

Here are some reasons as to why your leave applications are rejected. Take note of them before you apply for that leave!

You could be waiting at the airport for your next flight if your leave was approved.
Photo by shawnanggg on Unsplash

1. You didn’t meticulously plan for your leave applications in advance.

No, we’re not talking about planning for your trip. That’s the personal side of traveling. We’re talking about the professional side of preparing to travel. 

Often times when employees of a company get rejection emails for their leave of absence, the main culprit behind it is usually the lack of adequate notice. It is definitely not wise to plan for a holiday first, purchase air tickets and hotels, and then plan to apply for leave immediately after. That’s a surefire way to get your leave rejected without hesitation. 

Now don’t get us wrong. You can definitely feel wanderlust from time to time, we do too, that’s human nature. But you need to plan it properly, like at least a month and a half beforehand. Get all the documents you need, and write in that application for leave a month in advance. Better still if you could check specific company requirements on what is needed for a leave application.

On that point of presenting reasons, it’s very important to be specific and not hide any useful information. It’s important for the company to know how long you will be away for, are you in any critical projects at the moment, or if anyone of our colleagues are covering for you when you are away.  

It helps to invest in a planner to keep track. A small price to pay for salvation.
Photo by NORTHFOLK on Unsplash

2. You didn’t check the number of leave days you have left.

Speaking about meticulous planning, one thing we often forget is annual leave days we’ve taken before. If your company still uses outdated HR software or even just plain email management, you and your HR team could potentially lose track of the amount of leave days you have left. 

The human brain is susceptible to false memories sometimes, and without proper ways of tracking it, then that’s another surefire way of getting your leave application rejected. 

One way to overcome this issue is for you to schedule a meeting with your HR department colleague in order to tally the number of days you’ve taken off as leave. It’s also important to categorize the types of leave you’ve taken. For instance, sick leave and annual leave are two very different things. It is very important for there to be an unequivocal distinction. Labour laws across the world upholds this sacrosanct difference, and as a working citizen, it is important to know the differences, and to know your rights. 

Additionally, depending on the laws of the country you are working in, the number of available leave days you have might vary according to experience, time frame in the company, or internal company policies. It is very important for you to refresh your memory of all these clauses and variations. It does no harm to ask your HR department on the specifics, and who knows? Maybe you’ll get to build a better friendship with HR that pays down the line (just avoid a Michael Scott-Toby Flenderson interaction, please).

Communication amongst team members is crucial for overall happiness and success.
Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

3. You didn’t discuss your leave applications with your team.

We get it. Privacy matters. Sometimes we don’t want people snooping around our business, especially our private vacations. We respect that and all, but if you are working in a team, and if you are an important member, it is crucial that your team knows some important information about your annual leave. 

This works both ways. Let’s imagine a scenario whereby the HR person-in-charge (who is still reliant on tallying emails on Excel) gets two application requests for leave. Both persons are on the same team, and both persons are leaving on the same week. Important fact here is that both colleagues decided it was not worth telling the other that they’re going on break. What are the odds right? Happens often, and then luck takes the wheel. Now both these colleagues have been working hard all year round, and both are great people to work with. So how does the HR person-in-charge make the call? Will the applications be approved based on time?

That’s grossly unfair, but that is the only metric which the HR person-in-charge can use at that point in time. So the end result is one happy colleague, and one frustrated colleague. It could strain employee relationships and workplace environments. 

It doesn’t have to be that way. Having a conversation with your team and making compromises is the best way forward. It definitely gives you a boost in image as well, for being empathetic and well kept. 

Once your team is aware, plans can be formulated in order to cover for your absence. Take this as a chance to strengthen bonds, uplift certain members of your team, and help them help you. This generates a positive feedback loop, and the next time they’re away on leave, you should do the same for them. We covered it before, you can read about it here.

On a side note, this helps with knowledge management as well, and shows the competency of your team as a unit when one member is away. This is an absolute win for teams and companies.

Me: “Hey how’s my leave application going?” 
HR Person: “What leave application?”
Me: *???*

4. Your leave application was overlooked.

Congratulations for getting to the fourth point. By now, you’re probably enlightened on the three areas mentioned before. Now even if you apply all the three areas mentioned before, there is a chance that you might forget the most important element of all: The HR Departments themselves.

Let’s face it, some HR Departments are more comfortable using old ways of tracking, and sometimes as employees, it is difficult to spur change without resistance. But with this in mind, it means that the company is more susceptible to having advance applications forgotten or lost in the sea of emails. This has happened before, and things can get messy and awkward fast.

There’s always a chance that your application can be rejected even if you fulfilled all the requirements. The best way to find out is to have a conversation with them directly. No, we don’t mean hounding them every minute they’re in the office, that could jeopardize your professionalism and your future applications. Just a simple follow up will do, think of a short lunch break chat or even a casual conversation near the drinking fountain. Not the toilet though, that’s just plain weird.

Sometimes these gentle reminders and follow ups provides the HR person a more valid reason to support your request for being polite and respectful. The key here is language and being a decent person, so don’t expect any approvals if you’re shouting on top of your lungs or bad mouthing about them behind their backs.   

Trust is fragile. We must do our best to ensure we deliver. Even if we don’t, we must ensure we still deliver later rather than never.
Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

5. You didn’t deliver on a project schedule.

Sorry to be a party pooper, but sometimes your leave rejection could be due to your performance for a project on a specific schedule or timeline. It sucks, it really does. But it doesn’t mean that you are entirely at fault here. There could sometimes be things which weren’t accounted for or mistakes were made along the way. Whatever it is, this kind of rejection can be fixed, but not immediately. 

Firstly, failure to perform or deliver on a project on time will have a bigger impact on your employee profile which affects your leave applications. It is best to have a discussion with your boss and see how you could get more help to fix the situation while managing the project at hand. 

Secondly, you are still entitled to take an annual leave, but this requires more discussions and workarounds. Even if you plan it in advance, failure to deliver is considered a valid reason for employers to reject your leave applications until it is resolved. The best compromise is to fix the issue at hand to the best of your ability and postpone your leave a fortnight later. 

Remember, this could affect your KPI, and may influence future decisions on your leave schedules. It is best to repair the damage done in order to ensure your applications won’t be affected in the future. On a personal note, this shouldn’t dampen your spirit as we do make mistakes, it is only human. Don’t forget the 12 things in the workplace, this will keep you going. 


Closing remarks

These are common five reasons as to why leave applications are rejected. It is important to note that not all situations are alike, and some special cases may arise. If that is truly the case, then it helps to lawyer up and know your rights as an employee to defend yourself. 

But this doesn’t mean that all companies are tyrannical either. HR departments, acting under the best interests of the company, still reserve the right to approve or reject leave applications based on valid reasons. Only when the reasons are deemed not valid or according to the law, then can an employee have a case against them. 

You know, these reasons are common in companies whereby HR departments are still using the old ways of payroll processing, employee on-boarding, and leave management. As an employee (or employer), you stand to gain a whole lot more if these systems were replaced by a human-friendly software that saves time, stress, and company disunity. Read all those reasons above again and you’ll realize one trend: All of them could be avoided if it the application system was open to everyone to see and track by themselves on their devices. 

Turns out, Talenox is just the solution you need. Head over to our website now to claim your free one month subscription! 


This post is written by young and talented guest contributor Calvin Tang, a self-proclaimed optimist nomad.

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