Whether paid or unpaid, time-off is an important respite that allows employees to take vacations, attend to personal or family business, or simply rest and recharge. However, managers and employees alike must recognize that not every request for time off can be approved. The following are the top 5 tips on adopting and enforcing a time-off policy:
- Adopt a Written Policy: Employers should adopt a written time-off policy, detailing the amount of sick, personal, and vacation time allotted to employees and procedures for taking that time off. This policy should clarify how far in advance employees must notify their supervisors of their intention to take time off, and whether those requests will be approved based on corporate or departmental needs.
- Communicate the Time-off Policy to Employees: Communicate this time-off policy in both the employee handbook as well as on the company’s internal web site, or intranet, if one exists. Employers should also communicate in writing any variances to the time-off policy that apply to specific departments or positions. When hired, an employee should sign a written acknowledgement that he or she has received and read the handbook. This acknowledgement should be placed in the employee’s personnel file.
- Comply with Applicable Law: When considering whether to grant an employee’s time-off request, it is necessary to comply with applicable federal, state, and local laws regarding time off and nondiscrimination. For example, employers covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) must provide eligible employees with leave for specified family or medical reasons. In addition, many laws contain specific procedures and notice requirements for both employers and employees regarding requests for time off.
- Consider Flexible Work Options: In managing employees’ requests for time off, an employer should also consider whether a flexible work option is a good fit for their company. Flexible work hours can minimize inconvenient time-off requests and help managers plan for extra coverage during busy times.
- Be Fair: Time-off requests must still on occasion be denied. Remember to follow all applicable laws, and apply those laws and company policies consistently and fairly among all employees. If appropriate, the employer should explain why the request was denied and attempt to find a resolution that works for both the employee and the company.