Managing time-off requests fairly while balancing the demands of the organization is challenging. If you have restrictive time-off policies, it will be harder to attract top talent. If your policies are too loose, you may wind up with staff shortages that hamper your productivity.
But 2020 has grown more difficult to manage time off. At the beginning of the year, when the COVID-19 pandemic was just getting started, many workers may have held off on taking their vacation. Now, as the summer progresses, you may find that everyone wants to take their vacation at the same time! Here are some strategies for managing time-off requests in a way that benefits workers and the company.
What to Do When You’re Drowning in PTO Requests
When the pandemic lessons, many workers will likely want to take some time off. They may have been hoarding the time to save it in case they got sick or had to care for a loved one. How should employers handle a deluge of PTO requests anytime, but particularly during COVID-19? Can employers restrict workers from taking PTO?
State and municipal laws vary by geography, so be sure to check in with your HR team to understand the rules that govern your business. It’s a good idea to check-in with them about existing time-off policies to make sure they still meet your needs this year.
According to legal firm Hogan Lovells, most employers have a PTO policy that states they can change it should the situation require it. Again, check on the legalities surrounding this issue. The firm suggests the following ideas to help mitigate a rush of vacation requests:
- You may want to set vacation blackout dates for times that are particularly busy in your business.
- You could give priority to any employees that continued to work during the pandemic over new employees or those that were furloughed or laid-off.
- Adding a PTO cap on any carry-over hours into 2021 is a possibility, as long as this meets proper legal standards.
- Offer employees a financial pay-out for any accrued but unused PTO time to lessen the number of employees simultaneously asking for time off.
It’s important to note that employers in most regions of the U.S. are not legally allowed to eliminate PTO that has already accrued. Think of PTO as wages earned; “stealing” these from workers is typically not legal.
One thing to consider is how any of these changes will be viewed by employees. If your company is smaller, you could potentially hold a meeting to discuss the dilemma and ask the employees themselves how to handle the barrage of PTO requests.
Another excellent solution to the problem of simultaneous vacation requests is hiring temporary workers to fill any scheduling gaps caused by time-off. One of the most significant benefits of temporary workers, from an employer’s perspective, is the ability to staff up or down as needed based on demand. If you’re planning on hiring in the future, some of these contract workers could even be structured as temp-to-hire.
The Custom Group of Companies has temporary workers standing by to help you should your employee PTO requests threaten to slow production. We have a variety of staffing solutions for you to consider. Talk with our team today to find out more.
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