Vacation Policy affects Employee Engagement

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Jul 17

One of the coolest blog names out there is Evil HR Lady. Hiding behind the cool name, though, is someone offering great advice. The advice comes from questions. Since it is summer and the time for vacations, I was not surprised to see a vacation question come up in “The Strangest Vacation Policy I’ve Ever Seen.”

And it was. Wow…

Here is the question:

We are a very small company and, up until now, haven’t had a need for anything more than a vacation policy. Recently, I have been placed in charge of creating a sick leave policy or PTO policy. My research has lead me to wonder about the legality of our vacation policy. Basically we are given a set number of days off for various years of service. Where the issue lies is taking the vacation time.

If vacation is taken during the months of November through February, we are allowed to use ½ day of paid vacation time per full day off; if vacation is taken during the months of March, April, September and October, vacation time is day for day; if vacation is taken during the months of May through August, 1 ½ days of paid vacation time is used per day off. So if I take 5 day vacation in January, I only have to use 2 ½ days of my paid vacation time. If I take the same vacation in July, I have to use 7 ½ days of my paid vacation time. Bonus in the winter, but for those of us who have school-age children, the summer months are family vacation time and time off from school in the winter is limited.

Do you have any insight into this? Is it legal to require employees to use their vacation time in this manner?

I get that it is a small company. Where I go off like a prom dress, though, is having a company reward and penalize you for your vacation time based upon time of year. It is as if you were a hotel room and charging $350 a night for the week of the big convention and $150 a night when it is not.

You will note there is no focus on the work here. Simply more regulation of your time off than they already do. And, in the United States, there really isn’t enough vacation time to recover in the first place. To then take away additional time from you because of the time of year makes a bad situation even worse.

In my comment on the post, I said that if this were the vacation policy of a company I was interviewing for, I’d never take the position. And if this became the vacation policy in a company I worked for, I’d be looking for another job the same day.

I don’t get to say, “Oh, I’ll do half the work you expect between 8 AM and noon, but will give you 1.5 times the work you expect between 1 and five.” Yet, that is what the company is telling you about your time off.

It looks like we will have to wait a long time before companies finally get that work is about results and not time. If work was really about results, you wouldn’t even need a vacation policy.

What do you think? Would you work for a company with this kind of vacation policy? Does the vacation policy influence you taking a position with a company?

Photo by Moyan_Brenn

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About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.