COVID-19: Employer Advice on Handling Time-off Requests

  • HR Policies
COVID-19: Employer Advice on Handling Time-off Requests
Supriya Sharma

Supriya Sharma, HR content writer

(Last updated )

Once you reopen for business, chances are you may be juggling simultaneous vacation requests from your staff. The COVID-19 outbreak in March caused a mass cancellation of vacations. Given the travel restrictions that have been in place during the lockdown, it may not be the best time to plan a vacation. But once domestic travel becomes safe, people may rush to use up the vacation leave they are entitled to in a calendar year.

How much vacation leave are employees entitled to?

Vacation leave is determined provincially in Canada, unless one is a federal government employee. All provinces grant employees a minimum of two weeks of annual paid vacation.

In Ontario, employees get two weeks of paid vacation if they have worked for their employer for under five years. After five years, Ontario employees are entitled to three weeks of annual vacation. The vacation length could be more depending on the job role.  But an employer has to grant every employee the minimum vacation leave set down in the employment standards legislation of that particular province.

Can I decline an employee’s vacation request?

While employers do have the right to decline an employee’s vacation request, doing so may affect your staff morale and retention in the long run. It is better to have a clear vacation policy that lays down the company rules on requesting time-off.

What should a vacation policy cover?

It is important that you summarize your vacation policy in your employee handbook. A good vacation policy must be clear on the following:

  • How much vacation time all employees get
  • How far in advance should the employees send in their vacation requests
  • Whether unused vacation days may be carried forward into the next year
  • Whether team members can simultaneously avail their vacations
  • How you’ll prioritize overlapping requests. For example, you may want to sort out time-off requests based on a policy of ‘First come, first served’. Or the reason for request, seniority of applicant, and/or frequency of leave taken
  • Vacation policy during peak season for business
  • How to submit vacation requests (Paper forms or online)

In the present scenario, it may be a good idea to request your staff to take their annual vacation while they are working from home. Or you should allow them to carry over their unused vacation days into the next year.

How can I track vacation requests better?

Verbal or emails requests can be hard to monitor. It is best to use an online HR software for submission and scheduling of vacation requests. An HR management software like BrightHR will make your vacation management faster and easier. With BrightHR you can:

  • View your entire team’s absences all at once in the calendar
  • Sign off on or decline vacation requests remotely
  • Get automatic staff vacation entitlement calculations
  • Receive alerts about any vacation clashes
  • Be notified and respond instantly to vacation requests through BrightHR’s mobile app
  • Keep track of the remaining vacation entitlement for all your employees
  • Never bother with manual updates. BrightHR auto-refreshes staff entitlements at the start of a new vacation year

Try out BrightHR’s free demo today.

Could your business benefit from a vacation policy or software for tracking vacation requests?

At Peninsula, we offer HR expertise so employers can focus on their business. If your business needs a strong HR policy or you’d like to better track staff time-off requests, give our HR advisors a call today at: 1 (833) 247-3652.

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