When your business has employees, you should establish a time-off policy to clearly explain how vacation time works. Every business is required by law to provide vacation time, and it’s much easier to manage time-off requests when you have a policy in place breaking down all the finer details. Here are some simple steps to setting up a time-off policy and ensuring it works the way you want.
Establishing Your Time-Off Policy
The most time-intensive part of the process is figuring out the details of your policy. A good time-off policy needs to cover:
- The amount of vacation time employees get per year, which must meet the minimum legal requirements in your area
- How employees request time off and the approval process
- How much advance notice you require on time-off requests
- If there is a minimum amount of vacation time employees must take per year
The goal is to create a policy that’s easy for your employees to follow and keeps your business running smoothly. Requiring a certain amount of notice helps you prepare for the absence of an employee. Although many businesses let employees choose whether they take their vacation time or not, you may want to require employee vacations, as this can keep employees from burning out and reduce the acculumation of employee benefits that carry over from year to year.
Communicating the Policy to Your Employees
Once you’ve set up your time-off policy, you need to make sure your employees understand it. The smartest option is to put the time-off policy in writing and include it in your employee handbook for all new hires to see. For existing employees, you can simply distribute the time-off policy to them. Make sure you include any necessary paperwork, such as vacation request forms, with the policy.
To protect yourself from any potential issues, you may want to have all your employees sign a form stating that they understand and agree to the time-off policy. Let them know they can ask you questions before signing the form if there’s anything they don’t understand.
Reviewing and Revising Your Policy
After you’ve processed a few time-off requests, review how your policy worked and see if there are any changes you think could improve it. If you’re having trouble keeping time-off requests organized, consider moving to an online scheduling system to track everything and help you decide whether to approve or deny requests. If you’re frequently scrambling to prepare for employee absences, try requiring more advance notice.
When you make revisions to your time-off policy, print out new copies of the policy and distribute it to your employees immediately, just like you did the first time around. It can be confusing and dispiriting for employees to suddenly realize they were making plans under an old policy when they make a time-off request.
With a thorough time-off policy in place, you can comply with labour laws, keep your employees happy, and avoid productivity issues when employees take vacations.