How to Better Manage Employee Time Off Requests

Holiday season is quickly approaching. Do you have an effective, organized way to manage your employees’ time off requests? Depending on the industry you are in, it might be inevitable to have staff work during holidays. Let’s face it, no one wants to skip Thanksgiving or Christmas because they have to be at work, so be prepared to receive many time off requests from your employees. Handling employee time off scheduling conflicts can be a nightmare, but some planning and clear policies can make it easier for you.

Define Time Off Request Rules

Being transparent and clear with your employees is the first step when dealing with time off requests. By having clearly defined rules, you can avoid conflict among you and your staff. So what kind of rules should you have?

First of all, your employees should know how to submit their requests. The easiest way to submit time off request is by using a leave management software. All employees should be trained on how to use the software during their onboarding process. If your company does not have a leave management system, now is the time to get one. Otherwise, you will be stuck using outdated methods such as taking paper requests, which may get lost, forgotten, or filed incorrectly. Instead of keeping track of several paper requests, or even a mass amount of email requests, you can track everything on one screen using a leave management software.

Secondly, you must decide when employees can take time off and when they can’t. Every business has a time of the year where they are the busiest. Because you don’t want to end up with no employees working during that period, you should let them know that no time off can be taken during that period. Be sure to list those specific days in order to avoid conflict and bad feelings. All employees should be aware of this rule, so it might be a good idea to mark it on the company’s calendar.

Thirdly, you should let employees know how far in advance they should request time off. In order for your planning to go smoothly, you need to know of any time off request with enough time to make any adjustments. This depends in large part on how often you create your schedule. Usually, a minimum of two weeks lead time is a good starting point, although you can change this to fit your needs. It is a good idea to have a set date each month after which requests for time off are no longer accepted.

Establish Policies

Now that you have defined your rules, it is time to establish policies. This will prevent any overlapping time off requests. This will also help you decide what requests to approve and what requests to deny. The policies that you establish might be different than other businesses, but that is ok since you are doing what works best for you and your company. Some of these policies include first come first served, seniority, managerial discretion, and the reason for the request.

Keep in mind that emergencies happen, and you will have to act accordingly when an employee requests time off last minute. Depending on the severity of the reason, all efforts should be made to grant the request. Because of this, it is always a good idea to have a backup plan. Allowing shift trades can help you avoid this issue. Allowing your employees to have someone else cover for them will prevent you from being understaffed, and it will avoid any hard feelings from the employee that got their time off request denied.

One last thing: know the legal requirements. There are state laws and federal laws for managing time off requests, such as religious holidays and civic duties. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers aren't required to pay employees for serving on jury duty. However, this may be different according to state laws, so be sure to check the specific laws in your state.

Having the right leave management software is critical in order to plan ahead and save time. With Dominion’s Leave Management Platform, you can customize your time off policy to exactly how you want it. You can also have multiple policies assigned to your employees as you see fit. What’s even better, all of your leave management information will flow directly into payroll, eliminating dual entry and risk of human error.

Ready to see how Dominion’s Leave Management Platform can help you manage your time off requests better?

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