When does an employer have to validate a leave request?

Paid vacations are a social right acquired since 1936 by all employees working in France. Currently set at 5 weeks, vacation must be requested from the employer before the employee goes on vacation. Although the management of such leave is now facilitated by leave and absence management software, the employer must still validate the leave. Is there a time limit? What rights do employees have if leave requests are not validated? We tell you all about it.

The employer’s obligation to validate employee leave

Employers are obliged to validate their employees’ leave. All leave must be requested by the employee and validated by the employer, whether it involves a vacation, exceptional leave or recuperation of working time.

Employers must give employees at least two months’ notice of the vacation period. Depending on the circumstances, and if only one employee of the company is concerned, the employer must also communicate the order of departure at least one month before the start of the period. This means that each employee must submit a request for leave sufficiently in advance so that the employer can organize a replacement and ensure that the employee’s absence causes the least possible disruption to the operation of the department. This leave request must then be validated by the employer. It will be forwarded to the payroll department for consideration and updating of the leave counter.

The employee’s obligation to apply for leave in advance

In order to facilitate company organization, employees are generally required to submit their request at least 1 month before they plan to leave. This deadline may be extended by the employer, particularly when taking summer leave, which involves a longer period of absence and sometimes requires a reorganization of the department.

If the company uses leave planning software, employees can submit their requests from their computer or cell phone. Simplified exchanges generally mean a faster response from the employer.

Validation of vacations and modification of vacation dates by the employer

Employers have the right to change their employees’ departure and return dates, without having to justify their decision. The French Labor Code stipulates that such changes must be made at least one month before the vacation period. This period may be shortened in the event of exceptional circumstances that could jeopardize the continuation of the business.

The employer therefore has the final say on employee leave, although in practice only 2% of leave is refused, and most employers comply with employee absence requests in good time. There is no legal requirement for employers to validate leave requests, nor is there any obligation to respond. This means that employees are entitled to go on vacation even if their requests have not been validated. However, in the event of a dispute, it is up to the employee to prove that he or she has submitted the request sufficiently in advance, and that he or she has kept the employer regularly informed of his or her departure. All leave requests are deemed to have been accepted, even in the absence of a reply from the employer.

What happens with family and special event leave?

Such leave cannot be refused by the employer due to exceptional circumstances (marriage, death, illness of a child, etc.). The employee then submits a request for exceptional leave to the employer as soon as possible before departure.

It should be noted that these absences, which cannot be refused, must be justified by the provision of an official document (marriage or death certificate, certificate of illness for a child, for example).

Time off work and leave requests

An employee who has worked overtime or additional hours has the option, as agreed with his or her employer, of taking time off in lieu of compensation.

The procedure is identical to that for paid leave, since the absence must not disrupt the smooth running of the company. The employee must make every effort to respect the notice period, and the employer must also accept the request within a respectable timeframe. At the same time, the employer has the option of notifying his refusal, as in the case of a standard absence.

How do I apply for leave in order to meet the notice period?

In addition to anticipating the need for leave by taking sufficient notice, employees generally have several options for submitting their leave requests.

  1. Complete a paper application and submit it for signature.
  2. Send an e-mail to the department concerned, which must accept the period of absence in return.
  3. Produce leave requests using leave management software available to all employees.

The first two solutions involve more time-consuming management of leave planning, and longer response times. In fact, the leave must first be received by the manager, who is free to take a certain amount of time before validating the leave, and then forwarded to the payroll department.

The leave planning software solution is the most appropriate, since the department manager automatically receives a leave request alert in real time. Validation of the request immediately leads to the transfer and integration of the employee’s absence dates into the software, and their subsequent inclusion on the payslip.