Why Your Vacation Policy Should Be in Writing

Posted September 15, 2015

With fall just starting, now is a great time to assess how your vacation policy performed over the summer. Were there significant challenges? Did any unforeseen problems crop up? Do you need a complete overhaul?

If you do decide to make changes to your vacation policy, make sure the changes - as well as the rest of the policy - are put into writing. Having a written policy protects a company by confirming what people are entitled to and addressing contingencies.

Details to include

In addition to laying out how much vacation employees get and how fast it accrues, a written vacation policy should address more in-depth issues, including the use of vacation before it has been accrued, the kind of notice required, what to do about unused vacation, rolling over paid time off from year to year and what happens if the employee leaves.

If a company does decide to permit employees to take vacation time before it has accumulated, it is taking a risk that employee will not leave before the time has been earned. If this happens, the company will have given away paid time off. However, some organizations still choose to allow it.

A company also may decide to set up guidelines for asking for vacation time, in writing, for instance. Leave should be asked for as quickly as possible after the worker becomes cognizant of the need for vacation time, with at least one week's notice. For any conflicts over days, an employer may want to use seniority to determine who gets to take time off.

Be sure your policy adheres to all state and federal laws, such as the Family Medical and Leave Act and any state disability laws.

How to shape your particular policy

Like other forms of compensation, vacation policy can be used to help attract new talent or reward achievement.

When putting together your company's policy, consider how you can leverage it to achieve larger goals. Also, consider if your company has employees that are crucial to its operation. You may want to set up different vacation policies for these employees in order to keep them happy, while not sacrificing productivity. For instance, it may make sense to incentivize sales people with additional time, which must be taken separately so money can continue to flow.

A great approach to formulating a vacation policy is with input from the employees themselves. Lay out potential policies the company is willing to offer and have them discuss the virtue of each scheme. Then, put the final decision to a vote.

One very progressive approach some employers are embracing does away with a vacation policy altogether - letting employees take time off when they need it. While this policy doesn't work for every company, it does eliminate bureaucracy, and some experts suggest it lowers the idea of a this-for-that relationship between a company and its workers - replacing it with a more collaborative sensibility.

At Ambassador Personnel, one of the leading employment agencies in the South, we have top-quality local talent to help with any of your employment needs. Please contact our great staff today, and we can discuss a range available to your organization.