How to Manage Your Team’s Vacation Requests this Summer

  • HR Policies
Woman on vacation road trip
Kiljon Shukullari

Kiljon Shukullari, HR Advisory Manager

(Last updated )

The summer travel tsunami is headed our way.

Despite inflation, and the looming recession, there’s no stopping people from their summer vacation and travel. The nice weather could mean that you have several employees requesting the same time off, and you may not want to cancel anyone’s long-awaited holiday plans. But you also cannot afford to be short-staffed during a busy season.

It is important that you prepare in advance for the coming surge in time-off requests. You must handle clashing vacation requests fairly.

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 must grant every employee the minimum vacation leave set down in the employment standards legislation of that particular province.

How do I handle vacation leave clashes? 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/PTO policy cover?

A good vacation or paid time-off (PTO) policy should be transparent and fair to your employees. 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. 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.
  • 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)

Need help calculating vacation pay for your business in Ontario?

Let our experts help you calculate accurate vacation pay, leave entitlements, and ensure fair compensation for your employees.

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How do I handle vacation leave clashes?

Create a shared holiday calendar

A shared holiday schedule 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 is not without 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 resentment among your staff.

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.

Use a smart HR software

smart HR software like Peninsula’s HR software can make holiday management simple and convenient for you. When vacation requests start flooding in, you may miss any overlaps or holiday clashes.

When your staff requests leave through Peninsula’s HR software, the software alerts you of any vacation overlaps or clashes before you approve them. Additionally, you’re able to track and update payroll, which includes vacation pay.

The software also makes requesting leave convenient for your staff. They can book their vacation either through the online software or the mobile app. You are notified immediately and can approve or decline the request the same way and within seconds.

Do you need help creating a vacation/ PTO policy?

Our experts can help you develop company policies as well as with any other HR, health and safety, or employment advice you may need. See how we have helped other small and medium businesses get their business compliant with provincial legislation.

If you need more information on how our services can help your business, call us today: 1 (833) 247-3652.

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