I'm pretty organised and tend to book the majority of my annual leave at the beginning of the leave year. I've booked 2 weeks in August (w/c 6th and w/c 20th). I've also booked October half term to go away with a friend and her child, and Christmas to travel to family.
A colleague has involved HR as she wants 2 weeks in August (unfortunately we now have a major project so no further leave will be approved). HR are putting the screws in to get me to rearrange. I need this leave, hence why I chose the dates.
Can HR cancel my leave? Do I have any recourse if they cancel and authorise someone else's leave?
You booked your leave first. Your leave was approved. Not your fault, nor your problem that your colleague can't have the weeks she wants. That's down to your company's rules on leave. If HR want your colleague to have those weeks they'll have to change their policy.
This is why we have a system at work whereby everyone makes their requests at the same time. That way we all get something we want and no one misses out on having some time off in the prime weeks. No one would ever get all the hols you've got OP (unless no one else wanted them) as that would not be 'fair'. That said, if your leave is allocated on a first come first served basis then you have to move fast and you beat her to it so it's tough luck for her
"if they want to treat you less favourably than an employee with kids, isn't that illegal discrimination"
People without children aren't a protected group - not having children isn't a protected characteristic under the Equality Act.
OP despite the confident assertions by previous posters, unless they've read the annual leave policy/your contract of employment, they can't possibly tell you definitely whether HR have the right to cancel your leave in August and reschedule it.
It's unlikely, because if they wanted to, and could just do that easily in line with the policy they wouldn't need to "put the screws on" as you describe, they'd just do it. Or rather, line management would, administered by HR.
Check your policy and your contract and see whether it says anything about cancelling holiday. If it doesn't, then the law says that as long as an employer gives twice as much notice as the length of holiday you are taking, they can rearrange it. It's not common, and most employers who might need to do this have it specifically stated in a policy to avoid outrage if it happens. So if they don't have the right built in to the policy I would be surprised if they try to. But it's not unlawful to do so. Unfair, but not unlawful.
The policy states leave can be cancelled if there is "significant business need". This has happened in the past die to the nature of my job. Someone else wanting it isn't a significant business need!
The issue, I think, mainly comes from the fact I've always worked as part of a team so book leave before I make plans. My colleague is used to working on her own so makes plans and then books the leave.
”The policy states leave can be cancelled if there is "significant business need". This has happened in the past die to the nature of my job. Someone else wanting it isn't a significant business need!”
I think that’s really good actually. They’ve clearly set out the circumstances under which leave will be cancelled, and those circumstances clearly don’t apply. Therefore cancelling it would be against their own policy.
It's a good case for anyone who might come across this thread, always check your contract of employment or what the company's policy states.
It's incredible how many supposed "officers of the company" ie people in authority. managers, even HR, don't do things according to their own process and policy.
OP you have the opportunity to question them as to why they have company guidelines if they then choose to ignore them. Challenging this now would save the same stunt being repeated in future. I'd ask them to reconfirm approval for the leave you'd already had clearance for.
You could also highlight that they would be directly responsible for you incurring cost (eg loss of deposit due to cancelling / changing those dates).
I spoke to a HR advisor today, I went about it more of a query than anything that has actually happened. She has confirmed that they "can't" (her words) cancel when they approved a while ago, she said if it had been a few hours and an oversight it would be different. I've backed it up via email.
Someone mentioned upthread about the time I've booked not being fair. We can book at anytime in the previous holiday year. I never book anything prior to the new year starting unless absolutely non negotiable. These were booked when the new leave year started so there was nearly 2 years of opportunity before this to book.
They did try to encourage me to cancel some leave in March. Booked for a birthday and rearranged from a previous request due to workload. Once I forwarded the confirmation/invoice of costs it was never mentioned again.
I can't believe your colleague took this to HR, schools tell you the leave at the beginning of the term, if she chose not to book it then, well it's tough luck. I'm sure you would rather not be paying expensive holiday prices but you are allowed to have a life in August regardless of if you have kids or not! I wouldn't dare take it to HR.
I was told I couldn't have any time off over Christmas so another colleague could have a belated honeymoon. Apparently she couldn't afford to go any other time🤔. Company policy is that it is shared out equally in September.