How to get vacation practices right…first time
In terms of money, if your organization is the sort that pays out vacation days not taken, you will not only end up paying for the hours worked but also for vacation days not taken…which is double what you would have paid had the employee just taken vacation.
It’s also really important that employees take vacation for their own well-being, so that they have the opportunity to rest and re-charge.
Tracking vacation also enables you to plan ahead and prepare for times when employees might be away, minimizing the effects on productivity.
Here are five ways to make sure you get your vacation practices right first time.
Have a vacation policy in place
Including a vacation policy in your employee handbook clarifies the process of requesting vacation. You can also include information such as when an employee receives an increase in their vacation days and how vacation is accrued. Vacation policy can sometimes get quite detailed but you may just want to cover the basics such as who to inform if you are going on vacation and when.
Have a tracking system in place
Tracking vacation can be done with an HRIS (a human resources information system) or with a simple Excel spreadsheet. A tracking system ensures employees are taking their correct amount of vacation time and also allows managers to keep track of which employees are off and when, in order to avoid any overlap. A tracking system generally includes the number of vacation days allotted to an employee and lists the days the employee has taken off as vacation.
Seniority or “first come, first serve”?
Depending on the size of the organization (especially if it small- to medium-sized), having a “first come, first serve” vacation policy may be of greatest ease to your employees. However, in larger organizations a vacation request system based on seniority can help eliminate any potential chaos and conflict when it comes to requesting vacation. Allowing vacation requests for the year to be based upon seniority for the first three months and then based on a “first come, first serve” basis for the remainder of the year also allows for a nice compromise for new employees as well as recognizing those who have worked there longer.
Have a pre-vacation process in place
It is important that employees inform any clients, customers and even colleagues that they are on vacation. Ensuring the receptionist is informed they are away, activating their email out-of-office and setting their voicemail are also essential prior to going on vacation. The pre-vacation checklist is something that can be included in a vacation policy. It is also advisable that employees indicate who a client, customer or colleague can contact in their absence.
Employees who do not use all of their vacation in one year tend to accumulate great amounts of vacation year to year. This is not only costly to the employer in the event they terminate their employment and are required to pay out this vacation amount, it is also costly to the employee as they have not taken time off to attend to themselves. Putting a limit on the number of vacation days allowed to be carried over from year to year (for example, five days) provides added motivation for employees to use their vacation rather than “lose” those days. As long as employees take their minimum required vacation as laid out in the Employment Standards Act of BC, any additional days do not need to be carried over to the following year.