Summer is allegedly just around the corner and many people will soon be making vacation plans. Whether you planning a trip or have decided to take a “stay-cation” at home, research has shown that vacations have many health related benefits.
A study of 1500 women in Wisconsin found that women who took regular vacations were less likely to suffer from depression. Researchers at the State University of New York at Oswego followed 12,000 men aged 35 to 57 and observed a 30% decrease in risk of death from heart disease among men who took vacations every year. Studies have also shown that employees who take vacations are more productive when they return from vacation.
Vacations mean healthier and more productive employees so it is always surprising to find out that a lot of employers do not have a specific employee policy on vacations. When I ask employers if they have a policy, quite often the answer is: “whatever it says in the labour code”. In my opinion, a “whatever” answer is indicative of employers who are too busy to think through the positive impact that vacations have on employees and the company.
The Labour Standards provides a minimum standard of entitlement but it does not tell employers how to award vacation time-off. Some of the considerations of a vacation policy may include: seniority of employees, impact on operations, and scheduling. Do you allow vacations days off to be carried forward or not? Do you cash out unused vacations and when do you pay-out vacation days taken? Are some people allowed more discretion in the timing of their vacations than others? If you have operations in several jurisdictions, which Labour Standards do you follow?
A written and communicated vacation policy clarifies the company’s rules. It ensures that employees are treated fairly. A vacation policy allows for the planning of continued operations. The result of a good policy can be found in healthier, more engaged, and more productive employees.
The next post will discuss vacation pay.
Canadians will be voting in a federal election on 2 May 2011. Two of the most common questions heard, aside from which party do you support are:
Do I get time off from work to vote? and,
Do I get paid for taking the time off work?
The answer to both questions is: “it depends”.
The Canada Elections Act states that every employee who is an elector is entitled to three consecutive hours during voting hours to cast a vote. This does not necessarily mean time off from work. The Act makes it clear that the time that the employer shall allow for voting is at the convenience of the employer. For example, if the polls are opened until 8:30 pm and the employee’s regular shift ends at 4 pm, the employee has 4 ½ consecutive hours to cast a vote and would not get time off from work. However, if the regular shift is from 10 am to 6 pm, the employer could allow the employee to come in late or leave early from work to provide 3 consecutive hours. In this exemple, the employer would be giving employees three consecutive hours to vote by allowing them to leave 30 minutes early, ie 5:30 pm.
As far as pay is concerned, the Act prohibits an employer from making a deduction from the pay of an employee or to impose a penalty for the time allowed to vote. In the first scenario, there is no cost to the employer since the regular shift was completed. In the second example, the employer would have to pay full wages for 8 hours even though employees completed 7.5 hours of work.
In short, time off from work for voting depends on the employees’ regular shift and the hours that polls are opened in your jurisdiction on election day.
For more information, visit Elections Canada at http://www.elections.ca/home.aspx
Another Sick Day….Or is it a Another Snow Day?
Quite unexpectedly for many parents, today is a snow day for children throughout Nova Scotia. Unfortunately, when schools unexpectedly close because of weather, working parents with younger children have to scramble to find alternative child care arrangements. Many of these parents may end up missing work simply because they can’t find a last minute sitter to look after their children.
On school closure days, some parents will take a paid vacation day to cover-off the unplanned absence, while some will be forced to take an unpaid day off work. Others still, may instead choose to take a paid sick day to look after their children. While some parents will be upfront about their predicament and the use of a paid sick day to cover-off a snow day others will call-in complaining of sudden sore throats, flu-like symptoms, or a host of other maladies. It is HR pros belief that when employees feel compelled to fabricate stories to look after their children it is an indication that employee policies are not meeting the needs of the employees or the company.
Employees who must take a sick day for reasons other than sickness are in effect lying about their availability. Employers who accept the sickness reason, knowing full well it is a “white lie”, are tacitly condoning the deception. Further, it casts doubts on those employees who are genuinely sick. The fact is that in this world of competing interests (child care, storm days, doctors appointments, specialist appointments, elder care issues, etc) it might simply be best to not label paid days off as “Sick Days”, and force the lie, but rather to consider instead calling these days Paid Personal Days Off or Paid Familial Days Off.
If your employees can’t make it to work for a personal reason, you don’t wantv a policy to compel them to lie about it. Trust is the cornerstone of a healthy employment relationship. Promote honesty by implementing employee policies that consider the needs of employees AND the goals of the business.