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PTO Guidelines – How To Fairly Manage Employee Time-Off Requests

Follow these PTO guidelines to manage conflicting employee requests for time off

An employee has a wedding to attend and another has a family vacation planned – and both employees request the same days off. However, it’s your busiest season and you can only grant one employee’s request. How do you determine who gets first priority?

Handling employee paid time-off (PTO) requests can be tricky – especially when multiple employees want the same days off. Here’s how to modify your scheduling procedures to avoid conflicting employee time off.

1. Identify what PTO is

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), PTO provides full-time and part-time employees with paid time away from work to be used for vacation, personal time, personal illness or to care for dependents. Companies aren’t federally required to provide PTO, but it’s definitely the norm.

2. Implement a PTO policy

Have a written policy detailing how much PTO an employee receives each year, a timeframe for submitting requests and how much time can be taken off at once. Consider establishing designated vacation time during slow seasons to limit multiple vacation requests during busy seasons and holidays. For example, if August through September are typically slower months for your business, require employees to use some of their PTO then.

3. State the method for handling conflicting requests

Explain in your policy how conflicting requests will be dealt with. Will the decision be based on who puts in the request first or how long the employee has been with the company? If you’re struggling with multiple requests, give first priority based on seniority or which request was received first. You can rotate requests yearly so everyone can receive their requested days off. Ask that employees submit two time-off options, in case the first request is unlikely.

4. Automate your process

Say goodbye to paper requests and recordkeeping inefficiencies with an electronic attendance solution. An automated system allows you to list blackout dates in advance to prevent being short staffed. It also keeps track of employee requests so you have a convenient record of all activity.

5. Know the legal requirements

Be mindful of federal and state laws for managing time-off requests, such as religious holidays or civic duties.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that if an employee requests time off for a religious holidays, employers must accommodate the request unless the time off creates undue hardship for the company, such as compromising workplace safety. Under the FLSA, employers aren’t required to pay employees for serving on jury duty. This may vary under state law, however, so be sure to check – and specify in your policy whether the absence will count as PTO.

Save time with TrackSmart

Its critical employees have the opportunity to take needed time off. Organize and manage PTO requests for your business with TrackSmart, where you can add absence and event codes to PTO requests and set up time-off plans and accruals.

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