Corporate Payroll Services

With the holiday season upon us, employees at all levels understandably want to spend time with their families and loved ones, and many employees save vacation days until the end of the year specifically for that reason.  This can be quite overwhelming for businesses, especially small to mid-sized businesses who need all the hands-on help they can get during this time of year as clients and customers still have their demands, and there is still work to be done.

What exactly can employers do about this?

Here are 5 tips for dealing with vacation requests during the holidays. 

1. You Can Deny PTO Requests

First things first, it is important for your employees to know that you as the employer can deny PTO requests.  Many employees believe since PTO is time they have earned, it cannot be denied.  This is incorrect.   If your company offers paid vacation time, you have to honor any days that your employees have accumulated; however, this does not mean employees are free to take off whenever they choose.  Although it can be tough, employers do have the right to deny a request for PTO during the holidays.

It is also important to note there are no federal mandates requiring employers to give employees time off on nationally-recognized or other holidays.


2. Adopt Policies and Procedures for PTO Requests During the Holidays

One of the best ways to stay ahead of the game and avoid disappointment during the holiday season is to develop clear policies and procedures for the submission and approval of holiday vacation requests and to distribute these policies throughout your organization well before the season begins. For instance, you can add this to your employee handbook which all employees have access to, including new hires, so this policy is understood well in advance.

You may even add a section explaining why your company has such holiday policies to give your employees a better understanding. For example, if you have an HVAC company you may not be able to close during the holidays as customers in your area tend to experience more emergency heating or cooling issues during this time. In addition to explaining how critical your employees’ respective roles are to the company’s day-to-day operations, it may help your employees be more receptive to the notion that not everyone can take time off all at once.

Whatever option your company chooses, the key is to communicate and be consistent.


3. Set a Cut-Off Date or Establish a Vacation “Blackout” Period

According to GSB Law, a great approach, in conjunction with setting a clear policy is to establish cut-off dates or a vacation “blackout” period.  With a cut-off date, employees know they have until a certain date to request time off around the holidays.  This should allow sufficient time for your company to address holiday requests, attempt to accommodate as many employees as possible, and deal with any late requests.  If your business must be open on a particular holiday (i.e. if you operate in the retail sector), blocking out certain days well in advance can help ensure that you have the staffing you need during the holidays


4. Offer Incentives to Work during the Holidays

An effective option for getting employees to work during the holidays is to offer incentives for doing so.  This could be a financial incentive or something else.  Some businesses offer double pay or time and a half for those who work on holidays, while others may offer shorter, more flexible shifts.  If this is an option you want to consider, examining your company’s culture will help inform your decision regarding the type of incentive to offer.


5. Be aware of religious holidays & PTO regulations

Religious discrimination in the workplace is unlawful.  If an employee asks for the day off for religious belief reasons and you deny their request, you must provide a reason unrelated to religion to justify your decision.


The holiday season is a joyous and exciting time of the year for many.  It makes sense your employees would want to use this time to be with friends and family, but sometimes this is not practical for businesses which need to remain in operation.  This time of year can be overwhelming for employers for this reason as they want to make their employees happy while also maintaining consistent business operations.  However your business decides to handle PTO requests during the holiday season, remember to keep your policies clear, consistent and fair.

If you have any questions or concerns about PTO laws, federal and state employment laws, and more, contact us today to learn more about our HR Support Center.  Our HR Support Center is there when you need essential information on human resources issues, from benefits, hiring, and management, to culture, technology, and regulations.


NetClockin Makes Requesting and Managing PTO easier than ever!

Spend less time managing PTO requests and more time running your business.  With NetClockIn, our robust yet affordable time and attendance system, employees can:

  • Clock in and out:
    • from a fixed location or locations in your business;
    • using a fingerprint scanner;
    • using a Windows® computer;
    • from within geofence locations you have set; and/or
    • using a mobile app on iPhone® or Android™ devices.
  • Review time entries
  • Approve time entries
  • View and Request time off

You save time by not manually having to add up time cards and can save money by using automatic approaching overtime reports!

Click here to learn more, or contact us today to schedule a demo.