9 Tips for Your Request Time-Off Policy
Posted on February 07, 2019 by Danny Leffel
All employees will ask for time off work — taking family vacations, getting a cold, or even needing a mental health day are valid reasons for employees to request days off. Unfortunately, those requests add up quickly, and answering them can turn into a major job for management. With some tweaks to your company policy, fielding those requests doesn’t have to be so time consuming. The tips below will help you streamline your request time-off policy.
1. Create a Transparent Policy
Your time-off policy should be clear and easy to understand. If your employees struggle to follow the rules, it may be a sign that your policy needs to be reworked. Ideally, it should detail the method for requesting time off, the amount of time necessary between the request and the day off, and various rules that are specific to your team, such as who schedules a replacement for a shift or the company’s philosophy for unpaid leave. All new employees should be informed of the policy when they begin work.
2. Institute One Method for Requesting Time Off
A manager’s job is difficult enough without trying to answer time-off requests from texts, handwritten notes, and in-person meetings. Centralize the process by using one method for employees to request their time off. You may want to consider using the Crew App for this. Employees can easily send messages to their managers by using their smartphones. Crew also allows managers to keep a written record of employee requests, so you can refer back to previous messages when scheduling shifts.
3. Display the Shift Schedule
Keep a schedule for shifts in a place that everyone can see. If you don’t have a procedure in place for doing so, the Crew App can house this for your team, as well. If an employee can see that someone else is already scheduled off for a specific day, they won’t waste their time requesting it. Your employees need to get used to seeing the team schedule so they’ll be able to plan around it (and even ask for extra shifts if they see that one is available).
Displaying the schedule is a good tactic if your employees have been disgruntled about denied vacation time. The more they know about the time-off request policy and subsequent schedules, the less likely they’ll be to think it’s unfair if they aren’t approved for time off.
4. Be Fair
Be fair in how you approve or deny a time-off request. If you find yourself continually denying the same employee because the company can’t run without them, you need to reevaluate your staffing model. One or two employees should not be held to a higher standard than the others simply because they do an essential job. Instead, use this situation as an opportunity to hire more employees or cross-train your current ones.
5. Limit Number of Requests
If you have some employees who ask for a vacation day each week, it may be a good idea to limit the number of requests an employee can place within a certain amount of time. You may also want to limit the request time based on an employee’s working hours. For example, full-time employees may be eligible for more time under the vacation policy than part-time employees, which may permit the full-time employees to put in more requests for time off.
6. Plan for Overlapping Requests
You’ll definitely run into a time where several employees ask for the same day off, especially around the holidays. Prepare for this by making some rules that govern which employee’s request is granted when not everyone can take the same time off. For example, you can use a first-come-first-serve basis. If that doesn’t make sense for your team, leave the decision up to managerial discretion. Supervisors know their teams’ needs better than anyone, so allow them to determine the vacation schedule. Whatever you choose to do, just make sure that your employees are aware of the rules first.
7. Allow Shift Trades
If you allow your employees to trade shifts with another co-worker when they need the day off, it gives them some freedom and flexibility they may need for family obligations, and it helps management fill open slots if an employee is out one day. You can even write into the policy that employees are responsible for finding someone to cover their shifts, which will eliminate a large chunk of time that management might spend trying to find a replacement. Shift trades are a win-win for both employees and management.
8. Expect Emergency Absences
Everyone has emergencies that prevent them from coming into work. Unless a staff member is abusing the excuse, don’t get flustered when it happens. Instead, make sure that every job can be covered by at least one other person who is scheduled to work at the same time. In the event that an emergency occurs, you might be short staffed, but at least a job won’t go completely undone.
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9. Have a Backup Plan
The flu could sweep through your business, leaving you with only a couple of people able to work. So what do you do? In this case, a backup plan means having several dependable part-time employees on hand to call in if you’re short staffed. Make sure to check in with them regularly so you’ll know who’s available if you need them. The holidays and seasonal busy times are especially important times to have an extra group of reliable workers on speed dial.
Your company’s time-off policy should be included in the employee handbook and given to all new hires. If it needs to be updated, make sure to notify your employees immediately and provide them with a new copy. Sticking to the policy is an important step in getting your employees to follow the rules. After all, why should they listen to something that management disregards when it suits them? Keep in mind that the policy is there to protect both the company and the employees, so it’s in your best interest to enforce it.