There are a number of holidays that fall within the last six weeks of the year. As a result, employees clamor and compete for time off to enjoy and celebrate with family and friends. However, as a business owner, you are forced to balance the needs of the business against the requests for time-off in order to prevent losses in production or service levels. These competing interests can create difficulties in your small business.
A little known fact is that there is no legal requirement to provide paid-time off to your employees during the holidays. However, it is one of those common perks employees expect and if would be tough to retain good employees if you didn’t provide that benefit. Here are some tips you can use to make the process go smoothly.
Circulate an Annual Holiday Calendar Establish what holidays your business is going to be closed– if any — and circulate that calendar in advance. Armed with that information employees can plan their holiday schedules taking into consideration the days the business will be closed.
Establish Criteria To avoid favoritism establish criteria for determining how holiday vacation time will be granted. You could base it on first requested, first granted. Some companies use a seniority system to grant holiday vacation time. Depending on the size of your company, you might want to rotate vacation time.
Religious Considerations. If an employee asks for time off and claims it is a religious holiday, then you need to take that request seriously. Employers must grant time off to employees for religious reasons as long as it does not place an undue hardship on your business. Failure to do so could be considered religious discrimination.
Develop a Plan. Review your business operations and determine critical coverage needs. It may not hurt to have everyone off in one area of your business, but other business areas need to have coverage. Be very honest and realistic about your needs.
Offer Incentives. Because multiple employees want time off during the holidays, consider offering incentives to employees who are willing to work the unpopular times. For example, allow an employee who is willing to work during the holidays, extra time off during the coming year.
Policy Abuse Consequences. If an employee doesn’t get their requested time, he or she may decide to call in sick, leaving you in a bind. Make sure you communicate consequences for policy abuse.
If you don’t have employees, it is more difficult to balance the holidays time off for yourself. Advance planning is the key to success in this situation. Review your client/customer needs in advance, and advise them of your holiday vacation plans. Provide emergency contact information so they know how to get in touch with you if necessary.