Ask HR: Holiday Business Hours and PTO Requests

Dear HR:

We decided to give each of our staff an extra two days of paid time off (PTO) to use around the holidays this year. These two days are in addition to the 14 they normally receive to use throughout the year. This is something we have never done before, and we want to be fair to our staff. We value our staff and appreciate all their hard work this year, so we want to reward them with some paid time off to spend with family while at the same time, balance the need to keep our business operational. We posted our business hours of operation for the upcoming holiday season, noting how many staff members would be required to work each shift to ensure our business remains operational. We also noted that all requests for time off required a supervisor’s approval. I need help—every staff member in our Toy Department requested the day after Christmas off! What do I do?


HR Answer:

It depends on your PTO policy and practices in granting PTO requests. Your notice indicated that giving time off approval was dependent upon business needs and staffing levels. Here are some important PTO policy decisions you’ll need to make now and for the future:

  • Do you have guidelines that assign priority for PTO requests?
  • Does your policy give preference based on the order requests are received?
  • Or, does you policy base preference on seniority, job performance, or attendance?

Issues like these should be carefully considered when crafting a PTO policy. You, the employer, can determine how and when you’ll approve time off requests, as long as your policy allows for it and you are not basing your decision on age, race, sex, religion, disability, or some other class protected under state or federal civil rights laws. So as you can see, there are many factors to consider when implementing a PTO policy.

To offer you an immediate solution: let all your employees know that you need some of them to work on that day. As an incentive, you can offer those employees who work that day those two days as “floater” PTO to be used at another time. Since you do not have a policy in place, this is just an immediate short-term solution until you can formally write your new PTO Holiday Time Off policy! We can help – call Cardinal today for assistance drafting, implementing, or changing your PTO policy