What happens if multiple team members ask for leave at the same time?

Let’s talk annual leave. What happens if multiple team members ask for leave at the same time? Is it a case of first-come, first-served? Or is it more complex? Allow us to share some insights.


James and Kevin work in hospitality. James requests two weeks of leave over Easter to go camping and a week later Kevin asks for a week of leave to look after his kids. The leave request dates overlap.

So, what can you do?

In this situation, you can approve both leave requests. However, for some businesses, it is not feasible to have multiple people on leave at the same time, and while a first-come, first-served rule can seem like a fair way to manage requests, it isn’t always that simple. So, as a manager or business owner, what could you do in this scenario?

  • Firstly, remember that the Fair Work Act says annual leave requests can only be refused if the refusal is reasonable.
  • The ‘reasonable’ test looks at a number of factors including the operational requirements of your business, how many employees have asked for leave and an employee’s personal circumstances (including any caring responsibilities).
  • In this scenario, you could ask James to consider taking leave earlier or later to meet the operational requirements of your business.

It is useful if employers have a detailed and well-communicated Leave Policy. Need some help crafting one? Get in touch with Lisa at or Nick at, or call (07) 46383599.