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How to Avoid Vacation Scheduling Problems

From a legal standpoint, employers are not required to offer employees vacation leave. Most companies do understand the value of including this leave in their total benefit package to allow employees to rest and recharge in order to be more productive. Other leave time may include personal days, sick days, and holidays.

Employers would like to ensure their employees have the chance to enjoy vacation time that best suits their needs. However, the company has to balance vacation leave requests with the necessity of running a successful business. Effective communication is important to make vacation scheduling easy for employees and the company and offer a fair way to accommodate vacations.

Employees must understand the company’s vacation leave policy. This policy should be written and outlined in the Employee Handbook. Some areas to cover in the leave policy include:

• how vacation leave is earned
• how leave accrues and if it can be carried over for future use
• whether unused leave is paid upon separation of service
• deadline for submitting vacation requests, amount of time allowed (half days, individual days, weeks)
• how to submit a vacation request (paper form or using vacation scheduling software)
• who will approve the vacation request (immediate supervisor, department manager)
• how decisions are made for conflicting vacation requests—based on seniority, first-come, first served
• work periods when vacations are restricted or prohibited

Additional information should be provided on the vacation leave and request procedures during the hiring and onboarding process. The employee’s immediate supervisor should also answer any questions the employee might have about the vacation leave policy.

Cross training is important to provide a way to cover required work during an employee’s vacation leave time. Dividing the work among multiple employees does not place undue stress on one employee. Asking the employee leaving for vacation to prepare a work status report, a checklist of tasks to be accomplished and other relevant data is helpful to the person covering the job during the vacationing employee’s absence.

The company must determine the most efficient way to track employee vacation leave. Vacation scheduling software is an ideal solution to ensure leave is tracked accurately. The software provides a way to view vacation requests and schedules and run reports. These reports allow supervisors and managers to plan and meet needed staffing levels for the workweek. The vacation scheduling software can also provide information on gaps in coverage of work and help determine if overtime is required by other employees.

Juggling vacation schedules can often seem overwhelming for a manager but well written policies, excellent employee/supervisor communications and vacation scheduling software can make the process much more efficient and less burdensome for everyone involved.

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