No matter the season, employee leave is a timely topic for small businesses. During spring and summer months, vacation requests soar. Fall brings changing weather and sick leave just before winter’s holiday observances.
It becomes a daunting task to keep track of the different types of leave requests. Knowing what is required legally is equally challenging without some guidance. Vacation and sick time tracking software streamlines the process of calculating used and unused time off.
An employee’s absence during peak operating times can cause hardship. Applying restrictions becomes a balancing act. Employers must do what is right for the company and comply with leave that is protected by law.
Restrictions that support having adequate staffing levels for regular business activities is acceptable. The key is to make sure this is done consistently without discrimination. Protected leave such as FMLA may include special provisions regarding how paid and unpaid time off is handled.
Expanded Employee Protections for Paid Sick Time
Employment laws always change, either at the state or federal level. This can make it difficult to stay compliant with time off policies. An attendance tracking system that automatically updates complex laws eliminates the cost of non-compliance.
For example, offering paid sick leave to employees may soon become mandatory. Current law requires employers with 50 or more employees to grant 12 weeks of unpaid sick leave. States and cities across the country have laws requiring paid time off for employees.
The push for paid sick and family leave will continue to gain strength. In addition to staying legally compliant, attracting talented employees with competitive benefits just as important. Combining vacation and sick time with a paid time off policy is the chosen route for many employers.
Therefore, employers should ensure the PTO policy is administered properly. This means if one does not exist, creating a policy to accurately track employee time should become a priority.
Creating a Policy for Tracking Vacation and Sick Time
Situations, where an employee takes full or partial days off without submitting an official request can disrupt workflows. Creating a policy for tracking vacation and sick days is essential to ensuring shifts are covered. A policy also governs how requests for time off is treated.
A PTO policy determines whether the time is automatically deducted even when a supervisor does not receive a leave request beforehand. When this applies to exempt employees, the policy may require deductions from accrued PTO. Written policy statements clears up any confusion for employees.
The policy should stress the importance of covering peak operation times and outline the following:
- How many employees can be out at one time
- Periods of time when vacation leave is restricted
- Procedures for submitting leave requests
- How multiple requests will be prioritized
- Appropriately using leave without pay
Creating a policy to track vacation and sick time is relatively simple, yet can become complicated if not administered properly. Slowly changing laws regarding paid leave broadens employers’ options. Company culture, location and employees are contributing factors to crafting the best policy.
Policy Considerations for Accurate Paid Vacation and Sick Time Tracking
Accurate tracking of time off for employees, whether paid or unpaid, have certain guidelines that work best for companies. Another issue to consider is what to do with unused days. As much as employers balance requests for time off, many also deal with unused time.
Essentially, there are three ways to handle unused days: carryover, caps and payout.
Carryover – most states leave it to the employer’s discretion to carry over PTO from one year to the next. One solution is to allow employees to keep a limited number of days. This helps to encourage employees to take time off when needed.
Caps – some states allow employers to place a cap on the amount of vacation time each employee can accrue. This may cover a specific time period. Also, some employers may provide 10 vacation days per year and cap the total amount of time at 15 days.
Payout – paying accrued time to an employee when he or she leaves the company. Employers must ensure their policy statement is compliant with all jurisdictions, even if employees work remotely.
Centralize the Process with Vacation and Sick Time Tracking Software
Online attendance management systems give employers the ability to track vacation and sick time. Being able to automatically calculate vacation and sick time accrual removes human error. Not only could this effect employee satisfaction, but it could also impact legal compliance.
An advanced system that accurately tracks time off that employees earn eliminates a workflow nightmare. Whatever the policy, employers should harness technology that streamlines one of the most important aspects of managing employees.