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Dear Workforce What Should Be Considered When Changing Vacation?

QDear Workforce:


Our company is re-evaluating vacation and personal leave policies. In thefirst calendar year after being hired, employees receive a bank of five vacationand four personal days.

In the second calendar year a bank of 10 vacation and five personal days isreceived, and by the sixth year a bank of 10 vacation and five personal days isreceived. We pay out in January of the following year for any unused vacationtime from the previous year. Personal time is used for illness, moving,childcare, jury duty, etc. Unpaid leave is only granted once vacation andpersonal time have been used. We are looking into other policies because therehas been some abuse from one of our telemarketing branches. What do you think ofthis?

– Human Resources Director, map publishing company, Erlanger, KY.

A Dear Mapping HR Director:

It’s always good policy to make sure that you’re comfortable with thevacation and time off practices your company has in place and it matches up wellwith the culture you are trying to instill.

Of course, you also want to have a vacation and time off policy that is easyfor your company to implement and manage from year to year. Given the question,it sounds as if there may be some difficulty in managing your program. If youare paying employees outstanding vacation balances on a yearly basis, it’s clearthat you could run into employees who are assuming these hours as additionalcompensation. This problem is typical among many companies. You may want toconsider allowing employees to carry over a certain number of hours each yearand discontinue the early payout.

In our experience with hundreds of different organizations, we’ve found thateach company has designed time-off policies in its own unique way. However,we’ve found that many of our clients are now moving to a Paid Time Off program(PTO) that combines vacation, sick, and other reasons for time off rather thanseparating out their vacation and personal time. PTO can be used for relaxation,recreation, personal business, religious observation, or personal or familymembers’ illness. With one lump sum of hours available, employees recognize thetotal number of hours they have available, and the amount of abuse decreasessignificantly.

Of course, it’s not the design of a program that typically causes the abuseby employees; it’s the management (or lack of management) of the program. Onceyou put a vacation program in place, make sure that it is agreed to and enforcedby all of your management team, and then convey any changes in policy to youremployees. This also refers to the abuse you’ve mentioned in your telemarketingbranch. If you don’t have buy-off from all of your managers, you’ll continue tohave the abuse that you’ve mentioned. Update your employee handbook andmanagers’ toolkit with these new programs, and then be prepared to enforce thosepolicies that you have implemented.

SOURCE: Cherie Ohlson, Karen Rylander and Paul Weigel, Personnel ManagementSystems, Inc., Kirkland, Wash., March 12, 2001.

LEARN MORE: Other strategies that somecompanies are pursuing.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide usefulinformation on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice ora legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.