Posted on June 3, 2014

4 Tips for Managing Vacation Requests

From the HR Pros of the HR Support Center

It is often difficult to strike that perfect balance between allowing employees some degree of flexibility to take vacations, while ensuring adequate coverage in the workplace. Employers also find it difficult to juggle multiple vacation requests around popular vacation times. Below we have listed four tips to ensure the vacation plan works well for both the employer and its employees.

1. Encourage vacation time usage during slow periods

If your business is highly seasonal in nature, you may wish to enact a policy requiring employees to use all or a specific amount of vacation during the slow months. For example, if your workflow significantly decreases in the first quarter of the year, you may consider stating in your vacation policy that employees are required to use at least half of their annual vacation allotment during this time period. The same holds true for limiting or prohibiting the use of paid vacation during traditionally busy seasons.

2. Prioritize requests

It is also suggested to consider ahead of time the procedure to determine which employee(s) will be granted time off when multiple vacation requests are submitted for the same dates. Some methods employers incorporate to make these difficult decisions are approving vacation leave on a “first come, first served” basis or using seniority as the deciding factor.

3. Plan ahead for holidays

Employers are permitted to designate vacation time based on the needs of the organization. Employers that close for certain weeks during the year often use this method of vacation management. For example, if the company closes for the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, the company may require all employees to save five days of vacation time to use during this period.

4. Create a policy for notification

With respect to notification of vacation time requests, many employers request a specific amount of time, such as a minimum of two weeks’ notice of submission for time off from work. Other employers prefer to plan vacations on a yearly basis and ask employees to submit all vacation requests for the calendar year in January.

Whatever methods the organization applies for handling vacation requests, we recommend that the management team clearly communicates the company’s policy and reasoning behind it to employees so they may plan their vacations accordingly. Clear communication and consistent application of the vacation policy are crucial to avoid potential morale problems or discrimination charges based on the administration of the organization’s vacation policy.

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