With the official start of summer, and some of the limitations from the pandemic lessening, summer vacations are making a comeback.

Let’s take a look into some statistics provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on paid vacation leave:

  • “In March 2019, paid vacation leave was available to 79 percent of private industry workers.
  • Within occupational groups, 90 percent of workers in management, professional, and related occupations had access to paid vacation leave, the highest for any occupation group.
  • Sixty-percent of workers in service occupations had paid vacation leave the lowest of any occupation group.”

While summer is a season that many look forward to all year, the time can introduce challenges for organizations of all sizes who must handle time off requests. A day here, a week there - it can very quickly become overwhelming to manage. When you are exceptionally busy, it makes it difficult to juggle schedules and time off requests – all while allowing your employees to take a vacation.

To alleviate the burden of managing requests, we put together a few tips to help you relax this summer.

1. Create and document a time off policy.

Having an employee handbook is key to compliance for your business. It is a place where you and employees can turn to find answers to common questions and issues.

Outline your expectations for time off requests in your handbook. For example, you can require two weeks’ notice from the date the employee is trying to request off. This allows enough time to make sure you have people scheduled to cover the empty shift.

Need help creating a handbook that encompasses your time off policy? PrimePay HR Counsel provides handbook templates on a federal and state level, depending on which level of service you choose.

2. Hire extra help.

If summer is your busy season, you could benefit from hiring seasonal workers. This could be in the form of an internship, a temporary worker, or a student home for the summer. Just be mindful of the ACA requirements, and payroll and tax limitations that come into play with contract and temporary workers. For more information on the Department of Labor’s seasonal employment rules, click here.

3. Allow overtime.

While summer is full of vacation for some, others prefer not to travel during the busy months. Some employees may want to work extra shifts or stay a few hours past their end time.  Make sure to consider overtime when scheduling these employees, as there are strict state requirements in this regard.

For those employees not exceeding overtime standards, consider a small increase in their hourly wage, if your budget allows.  This is an easy way to compensate those who put in the extra effort.  Be mindful of these individuals to avoid potential burnout.

4. Allow employees to take unpaid time off.

You might want to consider allowing some employees, such as seasonal workers, to take unpaid time off. However, be sure to familiarize yourself with paid sick leave regulations in each state before opting to provide unpaid time off to your employees.

Allowing unpaid time off for your employees has several advantages. One evident advantage is that it saves you money. Simply put, with unpaid time off, you don't have to pay an employee for work that isn't being completed. The money saved can be put toward a Time Off Software that makes it easier to handle requests.

It’s important to consider how this can affect schedule and overtime. Always ensure that you are in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). According to the DOL, “under certain prescribed conditions, employees of State or local government agencies may receive compensatory time off, at a rate of not less than one and one-half hours for each overtime hour worked, instead of cash overtime pay.” This is commonly referred to as “Compensatory Time.”

Last, be sure to designate a set of policies around unpaid time off to avoid overuse. This policy can include the number of unpaid time off days an employee can take, which employees have access to it, and how they can request it. This can help ensure you can plan ahead when scheduling.

5. Schedule in advance.

Make a schedule a few weeks, or even a month, in advance. For seasonal jobs, it is important to request your workers’ summer schedule at the beginning of the season. Since many people already have vacations scheduled, it is a great idea to have a general overview of when you will be light on staff and plan accordingly.

Obviously, it can be subject to change. If one week is trending to be a popular time to take off, you can blackout those dates so other employees are not allowed to take off those dates, in order to ensure proper coverage for your organization.

6. It’s okay to say NO!

You do not have to accommodate every employee’s time off request. If you do have to turn them down, you can always offer alternative dates and work with them to fit their request into both of your schedules. This will help maintain a solid relationship between you and your employees.

Even with these tips, it can be tough to manage an influx of time off requests. Let PrimePay help. Our Time Clock system integrates with payroll, allowing for a seamless process come payday.

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Disclaimer: Please note that this is not all-inclusive. Our guidance is designed only to give general information on the issues actually covered. It is not intended to be a comprehensive summary of all laws which may be applicable to your situation, treat exhaustively the subjects covered, provide legal advice, or render a legal opinion. Consult your own legal advisor regarding the specific application of the information to your own plan.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2018 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.