Setting Up Enhanced Leave Approval Rules

Enhanced leave approvals in HR Partner allow you to set up a complex, multi-tier approval process in HR Partner.  See more details about how the new approvals work by reading this article.

Turning On Enhance Leave Approvals

Before we can set up rules and actions, we will need to turn on the enhanced approvals. To do so, go to Time Off & Leave > Configure > Leave Settings. At the top of the settings page, turn on this checkbox:

NOTE: Once you turn on enhanced leave approvals, it is highly recommended that you leave it on. Reverting back to ordinary leave approvals again can cause problems with existing approvals in the system getting locked or lost.

Once you have turned this option on and saved the settings, you will notice a new option appear under Time Off & Leave > Configure called Approval Rules, which will let you set up the conditions and actions for escalating an employee leave request.

Clicking on this option will take you to the Rules setup screen.

Setting up Approval Rules

When you set up rules for approval, you have to remember that you have to set up a Condition, then either Actions or more Conditions under that parent condition.

For example, you may have different people who approve leave for your full time versus your part time and casual employees.  Also, you may have different managers to approve the leave from your full time staff depending on the department they work in, whereas the part time staff can be approved by the main HR manager.

In this case, you would set up two main Conditions in your rules page - one for Employment Status of "Full Time" and another with the Employment Status of "Part Time" and "Casual".  Then, under the "Full Time" condition, you would set up further child conditions - one for each department in your company.

Example 1

Lets look at a sample rule layout in this screenshot below:

We will break down the various sections of these rules to explain them in more detail.

This is the first parent Condition. This condition is going to look for employees who are in the department of Administration or General.
This is the child Condition of the above parent. This will further filter out all employees who are in the department of Administration or General, and check for employees in the Location named  Main Office.
This is the Action that the approval rules will take if the above conditions are met. In this case, the system will send the leave request to admin users Sarah and Cara as well as the employee Helen.  The action also specifies that a majority of them will have to approve, meaning any 2 out of the 3 people here can approve the request. It also stipulates that it only needs ONE of them to reject the request.
You can set a default 'catch all' approver for any employees that do not fit any of the conditions above. It is a very good idea to set a Default Approver or approvers, in case any of your employees fall through the cracks and do not meet any of the conditions you set.
You can also run a Test to see how each of your employees will be handled by the rules you set. More information on this below.


You can create a new condition by clicking the green ' Add Condition' button on the top right of the screen. This will show you the following pop up form:

This form will let you set a filter condition for your employees.  The fields here are:

Condition Name This is a name you can give the condition. It is purely for your own reference, so make it something which describes the condition which is easy to recognise later by your admins. For example, if you were selecting Locations within the US, you might make the description "US Based Employees", or if you were selecting upper management positions, you could call it "Executive Level Management" etc.
Filter By This allows you to select whether you will be setting the filter on:
  • Departments
  • Locations
  • Employment Statuses
  • Positions
  • Tags
  • Employee
Select This allows you to select one or more of the above filter elements that you specified above

So you can see that you have a lot of flexibility for filtering out employee based on their Department, Location, Employment Status, Position or employee Tags, or even individual Employee(s) themselves. You can also chain or cascade multiple filters one after the other to further filter your employees. For instance, you may want to start by filtering by employee Location, but after the Locations, you might want to filter by their Department, and furthermore, after department, you might want to filter by their position description. This is all possible using parent/child filters.

Setting Parent/Child Conditions

To set parent and child filter conditions, you can create all your filters in order first, but then drag and reposition them to suit the order in which you wish to have them evaluated.  You can use your mouse to drag and drop conditions up or down, or left and right to promote/demote them as parent/child of the above condition.

IMPORTANT: Filters are evaluated from top to bottom, and the filters at the bottom will always take precedence over any filters above. So, if you were to set up filters for Departments and Locations, but then had a special filter for a particular employee called John Smith, you would need to place the condition for John Smith at the bottom of the condition list, so that even if John Smith fitted one of the above conditions, the system would override the ones above and apply the last one that applied to him.


Under each condition, you can specify the Action that will take place when the condition is met. Actually, you can set up multiple actions, which will happen in order. For instance, you can specify that under a certain condition, the leave request will be sent to the employee's immediate supervisor, and when approved at that point, then it will be sent to their department head and the general manager for further approval, and after than sent on to the HR manager for final approval before the employee gets the go-ahead for their leave.

You can technically set up an unlimited number of actions for each condition, but we don't recommend setting more than 3 levels of approval otherwise it can take a long while to move the approval through the chain of command!

To create a new action, you can click the ' Add Action' button on the same line as the condition that you wish to add the action to.

NOTE: You cannot click and drag to rearrange actions, so please try to create actions in the order that you wish them to happen.  If you make a mistake, you can delete an action and re-add them again.

When you click the ' Add Action' button, you will see this pop up form:

Here is a description of the various fields in the form:

Mark As APPROVED... This drop down specifies what it will take to mark the leave request as being 'Approved' in this action step.  The options are:
  • One - Only person on the below list has to mark the request as 'Approved' for it to go through to the next action step, regardless of how many people are listed in this action step
  • Majority - More than 50% of the people on this action step will have to mark the request as 'Approved' before it will move ahead. So if you have 3 people nominated, at least 2 of them will have to approve it. If there are 5 people, at least 3 will have to approve etc, and so forth
  • All - Every single person listed on this action step will have to approve the leave request before it can move ahead
Here, the term 'people' refers to ALL the admins, employees and direct supervisor inclusively that you select further down the form.
Mark As REJECTED... Very similar to the above, this is what it will take to mark the leave request as being 'Rejected'.  Generally, this will be a narrower scope than approving it (i.e. it could take all people in this action step to mark it approved, but it may only take one person in this action step who can mark it as rejected).
Select Admin Users Pick a list of admin users who will have to approve or reject the leave request in this action step.
Select Employees Pick a list of employees who will have to approve or reject the leave request in this action step.  Note: With the new enhanced leave approvals, even employees can approve/reject leave requests without having to be an admin user in HR Partner.
Include employee's direct supervisor This will automatically add the employee's immediate supervisor onto the list of people who can approve their leave. This is a handy way to quickly add their direct supervisor or manager to an approval stage without having to set up different approval conditions and stages for each employee. (The employee's supervisor is defined as the person they "Directly Report To" which is set in the employee's details.)

Remember that you can set up multiple action stages under each condition, and these stages will be called in the order that they are placed on screen.

Showing/Hiding Actions

To make it easier to view the condition tree, you can collapse the conditions to temporarily hide them, then expand the conditions again to see the actions under them.

Setting Default Approver(s)

Sometimes, you may want to set up rule conditions for certain employees, but have everyone else go through to a default set of people to approve the leave request.  Also, sometimes your rule settings may be so complex that you might miss out on filtering out a small set of employees. For these cases, you can set the default admin user/s that will be sent the leave request by clicking on the green ' Set Default Approver' button and selecting the admin users from the list.

NOTE: Only Admin Users, and not employees can be set in the default approver list.

Testing Your Rules

If you have complex rules, it can be useful to see how your existing employees are handled by the rules you created. Well, the good news is that we have an easy way for you to test this. Just click the ' Test Rule Conditions' button here, and you will be taken to a screen showing you all your employees, and the rule that will be applied to them.

NOTE: If you have a lot of employees or a lot of rule conditions, this screen may take a minute or two to build.

This gives you a summary of which rules will apply to which employee. It also shows you the first admins or employees who will be responding to the leave requests sent by the employee. Please note that in the above example screen, employees June Cha and Bob Sith are being allocated the 'Default' rule, meaning that they don't meet any of the filter conditions you set, and therefore will be handled by the default leave approvers that you have set up. If this is fine, you can carry on, but if not, you need to check your filter conditions to see why these employees have slipped through the cracks.

Guidelines to Keep in Mind

As you can see, adding a rule approval workflow to HR Partner increases the complexity of what has to happen behind the scenes. For this reason, we recommend that you keep the following guidelines in mind:

  1. Once you turn on Enhanced Leave Approvals in your HR Partner company, and employee start submitting leave requests using your rules and conditions, we strongly recommend not turning it off again as this can result in leave approvals 'floating in limbo' without a way to remove them, causing confusion.
  2. Once you have set up your initial set of approval conditions and actions, we strongly recommend not making too many changes to them. It should be fine to replace an approver who has left the company etc., but making sweeping changes to action steps or conditions while there are existing leave requests in the workflow queue can cause problems with 'hanging' requests stuck in the system because they are awaiting approval by someone who no longer exists in the list of valid approvers.
  3. Make sure that when setting up your Conditions, that you place the most important or narrow conditions at the bottom of the condition list. So if you have a condition that applies to only one or two employees, place their special condition last on the list so even if they match an earlier condition, you want their special condition to take precedence.
  4. Be careful of setting up 'impossible' rules - It is easy to allocate an admin user or employee to approve a request for a condition that looks for a particular department, but then if that admin user cannot see employees in that department due to their user permission settings, then they will not be able to approve that leave request.
  5. Also be aware of accidentally setting multiple rules that are the same, more than once. For example, if you route employees that belong in location 'London' in one rule, then later on, you have a condition (on the same parent level) that also specifies employees in location 'London' and 'Paris', then the second will take effect, because it is lower down the list (see consideration (3) above), so you might be puzzled as to why your London employees were being ignored for the first condition.

Read the initial announcement of this new feature on our Development Blog and subscribe to learn about the latest changes within HR Partner!