It’s easy to organize the company calendar with the right tools and a little training, even though it seems daunting. Time-off requests are managed in Microsoft Excel files by some human resource departments — and human error is more likely to happen with this method since it needs to be constantly updated.

Here’s another preferable option: You can manage time-off requests with software and scheduling applications. A convenient, navigational, and mobile labor management app lets employees request their desired time off easily.

Human resources, nor the employee, wastes time discussing and managing a request. Also, an app lets you create your company or small business policies so employees know what type of time-off they’re allowed.

Workers: Exempt and Non-Exempt

While managing time-off might seem pretty straightforward, “how” human resource departments manage PTO requests (Paid Time Off) is also influenced by the types of employees working at your company or small business. More often than not, top executives, senior managers, full-time underlings, and part-time hourly workers are under different policies depending on their employment classifications — with the latter positions on this spectrum usually being more non-exempt than anyone else:

  • Employees who are paid by the hour (rather than by salary) are not exempt because they only get paid for the hours they work (non-exempt).
  • In the other column, executives, supervisors and other workers are exempt.

Carefully consider your time-off request PTO policy for exempt employees. You must follow the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and local laws when it comes to time-off.

Hourly employees may receive paid time-off as an incentive to attract or keep hard-working staff members, even though it’s not required by FLSA. In the same way, some companies give paid holidays to non-exempt workers.

However, if your company doesn’t offer PTO to hourly workers, you should set up an unpaid time-off policy. This is where a top labor management system comes into play.

PTO Contracts and Time-Off Requests

Make sure all workers sign a contract when you make a new policy about time-off requests. By doing this, you’ll make sure your staff understands the importance of time-off. Having an irrefutable contract will also help in case of disputes.

You might have to deal with a lot more paperwork with a contract, as well as the company’s liability in the event of a breach. However, you’ll be able to manage time-off requests better if you have a written, signed contract.

How to Write a Time-Off Policy

Think carefully about what you want to include in your paid time-off policy. Staff members should be clear on certain rules so there are no misunderstandings.

Here’s what a standard time-off request policy looks like and where some of the best workplace management software systems can aid in your goals:

  • Define How to Request Time-Off — Make sure all employees submit their time-off requests uniformly to human resources if you don’t use an automated time-off tracker. There’s too much going on to keep track of everyone’s written paper requests, emails, or intranet messages. Set up a time-off request system and make sure everyone can view it. Communication about changes to the company’s time-off policy is important when new policies and rules are created. Time-off requests will be easier to manage if you’re consistent. Make sure employees know where to find time-off request sheets if you’re using them. Employees can submit requests easier this way. As a result, they’re more likely to ask for time-off the right way.
  • Identify How Much Time-Off Employees can Take — When business gets busy, block off periods that can’t be taken off to avoid a staff shortages. If January, February, March, April, or any particular month is always busy at your company or small business, section it off on the company and/or department calendar. Let everyone know that PTO requests aren’t being approved unless absolutely needed. Give your employees a heads-up when they can take personal time or a vacation. Holidays are a great time to do this. Time-off requests are more likely to be submitted during these times.
  • Requests Need Advance Notice — You might have PTO requests scheduled two weeks in advance or more, which is optimal. However, this can vary from company to company or various industries. There’s also the option of setting a deadline each month for taking time off. Your staff could be reminded to submit their time-off requests for the next month by the 15th of the current month. In this case, you won’t have to make several changes at the last minute to monthly schedules.
  • Total Number of Monthly Time-Off requests — Having a rule of thumb that only three time-off requests can be submitted a month (or something similar) will keep workers from requesting it too often. Setting a limit can even filter-out unreliable employees.
  • Issues Related to Your Particular Business — Consider how personal time-off might hinder productivity. Lay out specific rules for everyone, and brainstorm how to fix each issue. Describe how your employees should request time-off in your employee handbook to avoid confusion. Make sure they know what to do in any given circumstance, whether departmental or personal in nature.

Make Sure Your Company’s PTO Request Process Works

You should get an email from your staff when you request time-off. Their request must also include basic details:

  • Time requested off (if they are requesting only partial days off, the hours should be mentioned).
  • The reason for the time-off.
  • Full name.
  • Date of the request.

You must approve or deny time-off requests after reviewing them. Whenever you deny a request, be sure to explain why. The request should be signed and dated in either case.

Note: There are still options if you cannot approve paid vacation for specific dates, because there’s no guarantee that employees will get the time they request. Most employees know this fact and are usually flexible. You can perhaps make a compromise: maybe offer other close dates, or offer another time that’s convenient for everyone. Avoiding conflict not only improves human resource-staff relationships, it also boosts morale.

Nonetheless, properly promoting and encouraging PTO requests can be good for your entire organization as well, according to a recent study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. “Researchers found that even one additional hour of paid sick leave was associated with a lower risk of dying. For areas without paid sick leave, the study also predicted how mortality rates would change if a mandated paid-leave policy was in place,” one article states.

Managing Employee Time-Off better

As you manage time off requests, you’ll encounter many different scenarios. These examples, along with the tips and tools in this article, will help you manage them easily.  Putting together your company’s PTO policy is the next step.

Additionally, it may help to encourage and train employees in time management:

  • Be clear on what your organization or company expects.
  • Introduce new skills and techniques.
  • Minimize a problem by identifying its source.
  • Become a helper and offer assistance.
  • Provide employees with coaching and role models.
  • Take note of personal development and improvement.

Adapt to your company’s needs by managing employee requests in a system that you’re comfortable with, such as utilizing a highly recognized digital labor management tool. Make sure your time-off policy is easy to understand. Your employees will feel positive about your PTO policy with this simple system in place. VCS Software can help with this process — and much more.\

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