Time-Off Roundup: Holidays, Unlimited Vacation and More

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Time-Off Roundup: Holidays, Unlimited Vacation and More

Vacation policy: it may be one of the most important components of the compensation package to some people. Offering time-off options to employees is pretty varied, including holidays, vacations, sick leave, personal leave, and bereavement leave. These types of benefits are quite valuable to employees when analyzing the benefits package at a potential new job.

But as more information piles up that employees work better when they have more time to recharge and be away from work, why do so many businesses still cling to outdated vacation and holiday policies? Well companies like Netflix and Virgin Mobile are hearing employee’s needs loud and clear, and are coming up with different ways to meet those needs.

Let’s take a look at what companies are doing when it comes to unlimited time-off and holiday time-off.

Unlimited time-off

The average paid time-off for beginning employees in the US is 14 days. However, in 2010, Netflix announced they were allowing salaried employees to take time-off whenever they wanted, without prior approval and without their hours being tracked. Virgin Mobile took notice of this practice and recently announced that it too will be practicing unlimited vacation time.

Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Mobile, concluded that at the end of the day, completed work is a healthier focus as oppose to the number of hours clocked.

Entrepreneur.com reports that Branson said his employees can take advantage of unlimited vacation days “when they feel one hundred percent comfortable that they and their team are up to date on every project and that their absence will not in any way damage the business -- or, for that matter, their careers.”

Other companies taking note of this policy are Groupon, SurveyMonkey, Tumblr, and Foursquare.

An unlimited vacation policy does not mean a free-for-all. It just means that there won’t be a predetermined number of days off allotted to employees. This is, as long as their work is performed to acceptable standards and it all falls within policy guidelines.

As research is gathered, it is becoming evident that many companies are finding little increase in vacation time used once the policy is put in place. As long as there are clear guidelines in place, companies can benefit from this popular new bonus, while not having to track vacation time used.

Here are some tips to consider when putting your own policy together:

  1. Involve employees. They know what they need to do to succeed at work. If they manage other people, they need to be comfortable with how the rules are laid out, so that more work doesn’t fall on themselves or other employees.
  2. Make sure work is distributed evenly when others are out. You don’t want your employees to feel resentment when someone else is taking time off.
  3. Set the rules and make sure they are clear. Everyone needs to understand the expectations that come along with this new policy.
  4. Encourage the time off. If you notice your employees are not taking time off because they feel overwhelmed or are tied to their work too much, make sure to take them aside and encourage them to take a few days for themself. 

Holiday time-off

You may be surprised to find out that companies are not legally required to give employees a day off for federal or state holidays. If you wanted to require your employees to work Christmas day, you could. But if you are a business that deals with other businesses or customers that observe these holidays, it may be wise to follow suit.

Also, if you require your employees to come to work on a day when most businesses are closed, you may cause some resentment in the company. Remember, time off, especially paid time off, is a valuable commodity to most employees.

According to the 2014 ERC Paid Holiday Survey, the average number of paid holidays for full-time employees is 10.4 days. Virtually all companies provide the following as paid holidays:

  • Memorial Day
  • Independence day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day
  • New Year’s Day

However, the survey also found that a majority of Northeast Ohio companies offer the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas off in 2014 since both holidays fall on a Thursday. Other paid holidays include Christmas Eve, New Years Eve, and Good Friday.

Whether you choose to give employees a delegated amount of time or unlimited amount of time off and participate in holiday pay, you have to do what works best for the company and employees. Listen to your employees and practice policies that will not only benefit the company, but the employees that make the company succeed.

Compare your policies and benefits to other companies.

Access ERC's Policies & Benefits Survey to benchmark your company.

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