Managing Time Off Requests

Summer time is here again. Does it seem now that everyday someone is missing from the office and on occasion most of the staff is out on the same day? The increase in employees’ time off during the summer months happens for many reasons. School is out and it is the best time for a family vacation, or company/family coming to visit just to name a few. Many businesses find that they are short staffed because requests for time off were not managed effectively. There are some basic steps that can be taken to help alleviate the summer time employee shortage. 

Employers should have a time off policy that outlines the steps to request time off and explains who is eligible to receive paid time off benefits and how those benefits are earned. Some additional important points to cover in the policy are;

  • Who is authorized to approve a request for time off
  • How much advance notice is required for a request to be considered
  • How many employees can be off at the same time
  • How an employee is to put in a request for time off
  • How time off is granted. For example; First come/first served or seniority based

If you have separate policies that discuss different types of time off from the workplace, such as vacation time and leaves of absence mandated by state & federal laws, the mechanism for requesting time off should be consistent throughout the policies. As with all policies/procedures the key for success is communication. Employees should and need to know there is a policy/procedure in place for the proper way to request time off.

MMC strongly suggests that requests for time off be formally submitted either via the completion of a form, an e-mail, or the preferred method of your company. In the event a dispute about time off arises the request can be referenced, which is much better than relying on memory. Time off requests should be maintained in the employees file or stored with payroll records. In addition, make sure the paid time off is processed through payroll correctly so available balances are accurate.

Correcting balances can be a tricky business. California is very strict about vacation. The general rule in is once an employee has earned vacation time it can not be lost, “Use It or Lose It” policies are impermissible in CA. When an employee terminates an employer is required to pay out all earned and unused vacation. Many times employers want to adjust an employee’s vacation bank when employment is ending and without tangible proof that time was taken the door may be opened for a wage and hour claim.

Once a time off request has been approved it should be documented on a calendar by the employees’ manager. Having this visual is extremely helpful in ensuring adequate staffing at all times. Of course, there are the unforeseen events such as one employee is on vacation and another employee calls in sick, but this alleviates the issue of having multiple employees request for time off at the same time.

If you want to learn more Human Resources Tips, please click here for more information.