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Can an Employer Refuse Annual Leave?

Can an Employer Refuse Annual Leave?

Feeling burnt out at work but your annual leave request has been refused? Find out here if an employer is entitled to refuse your request.

26th October 2018

Can an employer refuse annual leave?

Employees have certain rights and entitlements in their course of employment, one of which is the entitlement to take annual leave. It is important that both employer and employee understand how annual leave entitlements accrue, as well as the process for applying for annual leave.

If you are wanting any assistance understanding these processes, you can contact an employment lawyer through LawPath’s lawyer directory for advice.

Requesting annual leave

All employees, except casuals, are entitled to 4 weeks of annual leave every year. Annual leave accumulates on the day you are first employed and will roll over to the next year if you do not choose to use your annual leave.

The process for requesting annual leave is set out in either an award or registered agreement, company policy or in your contract of employment. As employees are entitled to the annual leave, an employer cannot unreasonably refuse a request.

What is an unreasonable ground of refusal?

The Fair Work Commission have confirmed that a refusal based upon ‘genuine, sound business reasons’ would not be unreasonable ground upon which to refuse annual leave. However, what constitutes an unreasonable refusal is not defined in the legislation and is a matter of weighing up various factors. Relevant factors may include:

  • The period over which the employee wants to take leave;
  • The operational requirements of the business during the leave period;
  • Whether the leave would cause a detriment to the business; and
  • Whether a reasonable notice period was given for the leave.


If you are an employee and are concerned that your request has been unreasonably refused, or as an employer, you have unreasonably refused a leave request, it is a good idea to seek advice from an employment lawyer to understand your rights and obligations.

Need more help? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents, obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest lawyer marketplace or any other legal needs.

Ashlee Johnson

Ashlee is a legal intern working in the content team at Lawpath. She is interested in information technology law, and all things innovation. Ashlee is currently completing a Dual Degree of Law/Commerce at the University of New South Wales.