Does your company need a vacation policy?

Summer is allegedly just around the corner and many people will soon be making vacation plans. Whether you planning a trip or have decided to take a “stay-cation” at home, research has shown that vacations have many health related benefits.

A study of 1500 women in Wisconsin found that women who took regular vacations were less likely to suffer from depression. Researchers at the State University of New York at Oswego followed 12,000 men aged 35 to 57 and observed a 30% decrease in risk of death from heart disease among men who took vacations every year. Studies have also shown that employees who take vacations are more productive when they return from vacation.

Vacations mean healthier and more productive employees so it is always surprising to find out that a lot of employers do not have a specific employee policy on vacations. When I ask employers if they have a policy, quite often the answer is: “whatever it says in the labour code”.   In my opinion, a “whatever” answer is indicative of employers who are too busy to think through the positive impact that vacations have on employees and the company.

The Labour Standards provides a minimum standard of entitlement but it does not tell employers how to award vacation time-off. Some of the considerations of a vacation policy may include: seniority of employees, impact on operations, and scheduling. Do you allow vacations days off to be carried forward or not? Do you cash out unused vacations and when do you pay-out vacation days taken? Are some people allowed more discretion in the timing of their vacations than others? If you have operations in several jurisdictions, which Labour Standards do you follow?

A written and communicated vacation policy clarifies the company’s rules. It ensures that employees are treated fairly. A vacation policy allows for the planning of continued operations. The result of a good policy can be found in healthier, more engaged, and more productive employees.

The next post will discuss vacation pay.


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