7 Things to Include in Your Time-Off Policy

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A time off policy can minimize any misunderstandings your employees have about time off given. It allows you to explain the rules and expectations about how much time your employees are to work and how they should ask for time off. It also tells your employees how time off requests will be reviewed and approved to ensure that everyone is treated fairly.

To ensure your policy answers any questions your employees might have, include these seven things.

1. What types of time off are available

You might have a single policy that your employees can use for anything they want (often called personal time off or PTO). Or, you might have different policies for vacation and sick leave.

Make sure to explain which policies are available to your employees and what each policy can be used for. For example, can an employee use sick leave to take their child to a doctor’s appointment?

2. Who’s eligible for time off

You don’t have to offer the same policies to all your employees. For example, you might offer different policies to your salaried employees and your hourly workers. Be careful, however, that you’re not offering different policies based on a protected class, like race or gender.

You might also require that your team members work for you for a certain amount of time, like 90 days, before they begin accruing time off.

3. How time off is accrued

Letting your employees know how their time off is accrued can cut down on questions about why they don’t have more time off available.

If your employees accrue time based on how many hours they’ve worked, then let them know how often they’ll accrue time off. For example, let them know if they accrue 4 hours for every 80 hours worked.

If your employees get a set amount of time each year, then let them know how much they get and when the policy renews.

Your employees might accrue more time off based on how long they’ve worked for you, so make sure to explain that, too. For example, your employees might earn 10 days off for the first five years they work for you, then earn 15 days starting in year six.

4. What happens to unused time off

If any of your staff is part of the 52% of workers who don’t use all their vacation time, you have a few options for how to deal with that unused time.

  • Allow your team to carry over some of their unused time to the next year.
  • Pay your employees for their unused hours.
  • Implement a “use it or lose it” policy.

5. Other time off given

You might give your team some time off outside of your time off policies.

Consider including a list of company holidays, explain how jury duty and military service leave will be handled, explain if your employees are eligible for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) benefits, and include information about bereavement leave, if offered.

Make sure to explain what is paid and unpaid.

6. How to ask for time off

To ensure you’re treating your employees fairly, explain how they should go about asking for time off. Include how far in advance to ask, who to ask, and how to make the request.

In this section, include how requests will be reviewed and approved. For example, you might approve requests on a first-come, first-served basis, and you might deny a request if too many people have already asked for a particular day off.

Your staff can submit requests and view their PTO balance through their Workful employee portal. You can then approve or deny their request with the click of a button.

Learn more about Workful and how it can help manage your team’s time off.

7. What happens if an employee violates your policy

Let your employees know what will happen if they use more time off than available. You might include some disciplinary action, or you might choose to give them that extra time as unpaid leave.

You should also lay out any consequences of not going through the appropriate channels of asking for time off. For example, you might give them a verbal warning for the first few violations before advancing to a written warning or even termination.

Be consistent with the consequences and don’t play favorites.

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