Ask the HR Department: Summer is coming. Everyone will want vacations at once. How do I handle this?

By HR and health & safety consultancy Peninsula Canada

After a challenging two years with border closures, many employees are eager to get away on holiday. This could lead to an absolute surge of vacation requests this summer. Here’s how to cope.

Have a policy in place and share it with your staff. Your vacation policy should inform employees of how far in advance they must request their vacation. It should clarify the procedure for making the request.

The policy should also list the reasons a request may be declined. For instance, you may decline requests during the busy holiday season or if you’re already short-staffed.

Make it clear in the vacation policy or in your employee handbook that if several workers want the same time off, you will deal with the requests on a ‘first-come first-served’ basis.

Create a shared holiday calendar. A shared holiday calendar can help avoid vacation clashes. You could put it up in the work area or share it online so that it is easily accessible to all your employees. This way, your staff can check availability before blocking dates.

Get creative. While a ‘first-come, first-served’ policy would make managing time-off requests easier for you, it has its shortcomings. For instance, some employees may always reserve all the coveted holiday periods at the beginning of the year. This is unfair to others and may lead to staff becoming upset.

To avoid this, you should devise more creative ways to divide popular days. You could ask your employees to draw lots. Or you could have a rotational system. For example, everyone could take turns to get time off on Christmas Eve.

Peninsula is an HR and Health and Safety consulting firm serving over 80,000 small businesses worldwide, including dealers in home improvement. Clients are supported with ongoing updates to their workplace documentation and policies as legislation changes. Additionally, clients benefit from 24/7 employer HR advice and are protected by legal insurance.