Navigating Employee Time Off During the Holiday Season

CATEGORY: Blog Posts
CLIENT TYPE: Public Employers
PUBLICATION: California Public Agency Labor & Employment Blog
DATE: Dec 12, 2023

The holiday season is upon us and it’s not just about decking the halls but also managing employee time off effectively.  Here are some tips for navigating this festive challenge:

Plan Ahead: A Holiday Calendar is Your Best Friend

  • Start early by creating a holiday calendar that highlights critical dates, including office closures and special events.
  • Share the calendar with your employees well in advance.
  • As the holiday season approaches, remind employees about vacation and leave policies – including how and when to submit time-off requests.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

  • Promote open communication channels for vacation requests.  Ensure that you have a clear and fair process for responding to time off requests.
  • Encourage employees to coordinate with their peers in advance to ensure essential tasks are covered during the holidays.
  • Communicate anticipated office closures and leaves to all stakeholders in advance.

Know the Legal Landscape

  • Work with Human Resources or legal counsel to stay compliant with California labor laws regarding time off, overtime, and holiday pay.
  • Ensure that you have classified employees correctly, distinguishing between exempt and non-exempt workers, as this can impact overtime pay and time-off policies.
  • Remember union contracts may govern time-off policies and requests.  Compliance with these agreements is crucial to maintaining workplace peace.
  • Ensure meticulous record-keeping when managing time-off requests.  Accurate records are not only good practice, but also vital for legal defense in case of disputes.
  • Document all communications regarding time-off requests. This paper trail can be invaluable in demonstrating compliance with legal requirements and fairness in decision-making.
  • Be careful when it comes to protected leaves – such as those under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and California Family Rights Act (“CFRA”) – as employees are entitled to such leaves regardless of the season.

Reward Those Who Stay

  • Recognize and appreciate employees who hold down the fort during the holiday season.  A certificate or public recognition is a great gesture of appreciation.
  • Host fun and inclusive virtual events or small office celebrations.  Perhaps a catered meal or a team celebration is in order.
  • Continue to invest in your employees’ growth during the holiday season by continuing to offer them access to training, seminars, or workshops that can help them in their career development.
  • Emphasize the importance of self-care and rejuvenation.  Remind employees of available benefits such as Employee Assistance Program (“EAP”) or Flexible Spending Account (“FSA”).

Managing employee time off during the holiday season does not have to be daunting – as long as you have the right plan.  Be proactive, communicate openly, and keep the spirit of the season alive in your workplace.  Happy holidays and happy time-off planning from your friends at LCW!

View More News

Blog Posts
Office Parties: Holiday Cheer or HR Fear?
California Public Agency Labor & Employment Blog
Special Bulletins
Juneteenth Established as a Federal Holiday: What Does it Mean for Cities, Counties, and Special Districts? Do you have to Close?
LCW Special Bulletin