What is a Sandwich Leave Policy?

Andrew Buck's avatar Andrew Buck June 26, 2023

Sandwich Leave is one of the lesser-known terms in HR and leave management. It’s not a leave type exactly, like maternity leave or bereavement leave, but it’s something that businesses in certain areas of the world should know about.

This article will explain all about sandwich leave, what it is, how it works, and why it exists. We’ll tell you whether it’s legal, whether it’s a good idea, and what kind of alternatives there are that might work better.

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What is Sandwich Leave?

Sandwich leave is a rule, used primarily in businesses in India, which discourages workers from taking paid leaves on each side of regular days off.

With the sandwich rule, if an employee takes leave the days before and after non-working days (e.g. a weekend or public holiday), the regular non-working days will also be counted as leave for the employee and deducted from their annual leave quota.

Example of the Sandwich Rule

Let’s say an employee decides to take paid leave on Friday and Monday (and the business is usually closed on weekends).

Under normal circumstances, this would count as two days of PTO – just Friday and Monday.

With a sandwich policy, the employer would deduct leave for four days – Friday and Monday, plus Saturday and Sunday.

The same applies for employees taking leave each side of national holidays or public holidays to avail an extended period of time off.

This is meant to discourage workers from taking an extended weekend or another type of long break away from work. They’re still allowed to do so, but will need to accept a larger deduction from their leave quota if they do.

What’s the Point of a Sandwich Leave Policy?

The sandwich leave policy was primarily created for factory workers. The idea is that a certain level of man hours is needed to maintain productivity, and it could hurt the business if too many people took leave at the same time to try and get an extended holiday.

Thus they created the sandwich leave policy to provide a disincentive for people to take leave at popular times, such as around the weekend and public holidays.

Sandwich leave policy is most commonly used in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Around the world, specifically in western countries, sandwich leave generally doesn’t exist.

Is Sandwich Leave Legal?

There appear to be no clear legal restrictions against implementing a sandwich leave policy (in India, at least).

It should be stated in the employment contract that the sandwich rule may be applied, and make it clear what this is and how it works.

In a lot of other countries, such as the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand, deducting annual leave days for a regular non-working day, public holiday or national holiday is likely not legal.

Refer to relevant documents on the legal requirements for your business. In India, this includes the:

In other countries, check the relevant legislation, and get the help of a legal professional to be sure you’re compliant with all labour laws.

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Why You Should Not Use the Sandwich Rule in Your Business

Although a sandwich leave policy will help maintain productivity by discouraging workers from taking leave at all the same time, it’s not a good strategy for modern businesses.

Even if it’s not breaking any labor law in your area, and you may feel it’s justifiable as it’s general practice to use a sandwich policy, it’s not good for your employees to have their paid leave reduced like this.

Workers need regular time off to stay fresh and healthy, maintain their work-life balance and remain happy, all of which will benefit their overall productivity.

Many employees feel a sandwich leave policy is unfair by taking away their earned leave for days they don’t regularly work anyway.

This means it may have a negative effect on productivity long-term by making employees unhappy and less engaged and committed to the job. It may also increase job turnover, which is a big cost for your business to manage.


Though it may not be a good idea, the sandwich leave policy is there for a reason.

Many kinds of business can’t afford to have a large percentage of their workforce taking time off at the same time, leaving no one behind to maintain productivity.

If this is your business, consider alternatives that are kinder on your employees, such as:

Flamingo’s vacation tracker makes it easy for your HR department to manage leaves. It’s a simple, streamlined way to track leave requests and approved leaves, to help you avoid issues with too many people taking leave at the same time.

A simple, efficient leave management system is the best alternative to outdated policies that negatively affect the relationship between a business and its employees.

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Final Thoughts

Sandwich leave policies are commonplace in some areas of the world. But many believe that they are unfair, unjustified, and unnecessary today.

Instead of using a sandwich leave policy, set up a system for your company that makes it easier to track and manage leaves. You’ll see a positive effect on the attitudes and engagement of your staff, and your workplace will be a healthier and more attractive place to work.

Andrew Buck's avatar

Andrew Buck

Andrew is the content manager at Flamingo. He has managed teams in multiple industries, for both physical and remote businesses, and has experience dealing with the ins and outs of HR and leave management on a daily basis.

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