Most organizations that offer a personal time off system for all leave purposes, or vacation leave and sick leave systems, typically award time off based on your employment status, job level, your title and years of service with your company. Some organizations have a first come first serve policy, while others may require approval from your manager to ensure there is adequate coverage while you are away. Whatever your organization's policy may be regarding time off for vacation, sick, or personal time, it's important for employees to be aware of the policy and procedures for taking time-off.
If you are an organization that offers time off for vacations and otherwise, the following best practices may help manage personal time off requests and overlapping vacations:
- At the time of hire, ensure that employees understand your organization's personal time off and vacation policy and procedures.
- Explain the time frame for employees to submit vacation requests so that you and they can see how absences could impact patient care, customer service and/ or deadlines.
- Have a vacation request log that shows employees who have already scheduled for time-off list the policy and procedures as part of the log.
- When possible, consider having employees attempt finding coverage for their assigned shift prior to granting time off.
- Explain management's right to approve or deny vacation requests if an employee does not have enough accrued time in the "time off" bank to cover their time. This is often an important consideration for organizations that offer health and dental benefits to ensure benefits are paid for with appropriate employer/employee contributions.
- Also explain management's right to approve or deny vacation due to work demands, deadlines or scheduling conflicts.
- During the "busy season" offer incentives for employees who work during that time. For example, if you know you are busy the week prior to the 4thof July and know several employees are planning summer vacations, you could consider offering an extra vacation dayfor those who work that week.
- If you are going to be "short-staffed" due to lack of shift coverage, consider a performance bonus for those who are working their assigned shifts.
The importance of communication
While thislist of best practices is not all-inclusive, it does offer your organization a starting point for an effective personal time off policy. Once your personal time off policy is in place, communication is essential to ensure the success of the policy. Both employers and employees have a responsibility to communicate when considering personal time off and vacations. If your organization maintains an environment where communication is encouraged, it may prevent employees from feeling like they need to call in sick to take time off. Employees should feel encouraged to communicate their time off requests and empowered to find coverage for their shift. Management should feel encouraged to communicate theirorganization's personal time off and/or vacation policy and ensure reasonable steps are taken to fairly manage employees' personal time off requests.
Did you know? The HCP Human Resources training module includes a Planned Time-off slide. This slide is a place where your organization's time off policy may be listed. In addition to your organization's policy, this slide may include guidance regarding with whom you should speak when requesting time off.
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