Vacation Policy Best Practices

We all daydream about where our next travel adventure will take us. I just got back from spending 10 days in paradise down in Zihuatanejo, Mexico. My husband and I were celebrating our 10-year anniversary and had the most amazing trip ever! Now I am back in the snow and suffering through this -20 degree Celsius weather!

But this is something that happens quite frequently in dental practices…a team member booked a holiday and is now asking for some time off. This can put some strain on your practice. What is the best way to handle this? After all, everyone deserves a vacation and some work/life balance.

How do you balance this while also trying to run & grow your business, keep your schedule busy AND keep your patients & team happy?!?

 

Have it Down in Writing

First things first: It is important that your employees understand how your practice vacation pay works, the scheduling of vacation days, and the stipulations around requesting vacation. This can be done by having a dedicated policy that outlines what the office expectations are and what the office protocol is. By having this you will avoid those awkward conversations, misinterpretations, or worse yet, you have multiple employees on holidays at the same time-- leaving you shorthanded!!! {Not a great position to be in}

So, let’s avoid that by having a good and effective Vacation policy. It is also important that your Vacation Policy be compliant with your provincial, territorial or state employment standards. Because every province & state have different regulations, amount of vacation days and how they should be compensated. For example, I am here in Alberta and vacation time is based on the length of employment. For instance: 1-5 years is calculated at 4% of their wages which equals 2 weeks of pay. 5 years or more they get 6% or 3 weeks holidays.

So, let’s break this down into what should be included in the policy and how to implement this in your practice:

What Should Be Included in The Vacation Policy

  1. Explain how vacation days are being calculated and paid out. Is this being accrued over time or paid out on every pay cheque?
  2. When can it be taken…
    • Does it have to be used during this calendar year or can it be carried over?
    • The maximum length of vacation days can be taken consecutively. For example: if I have 3 weeks vacation, can I take all three weeks consecutively or should this be broken up over the calendar year?
    • If there are conflicting dates—how should this be handled? Multiple employees request the same time off, how will this be handled?
    • How should popular vacation period like Christmas, new years and long weekends be handled to allow for fair treatment amongst all employees?
  3. How vacation time should be requested- How far in advance do they need to request time off? For example, it's a Saturday afternoon and you get a text that your hygienist just booked a last minute trip and will be gone for 2 weeks starting Monday...now you are left EXTREMELY short-handed. Having a policy that outline the process and timeline for requesting vacation time will avoid these stressful scenarios!

How Can This Be Implemented?

  1. Have your team members read and sign the vacation policy and save a copy in their employee file for easy reference.
  2. The office manager should have a vacation tracking master spreadsheet to know how many vacation days each employee is entitled too, who is on holidays and when they are away = so that you don’t accidentally double book multiple team members off!
  3. Have a vacation request form whereby the team member writes out their requested days off and contingency plan-- ie: how their vacation time will be covered. This is given to the office manager/Dentist at least X number of weeks in advance and approved by them before the vacation is booked.
  4. Save the approved vacation request form in their employee file.

Can you see how important it is to have a Vacation policy AND Vacation protocol in place? There is SO much more involved than just having a standard policy written out. You need systems and accountability to ensure everything is running smoothly for the entire office—team, doc’s and for your patients!

Need help putting the HR documents together? We have this ready-made structures in place that include Vacation policy, request form and master spreadsheet so you can implement this in your practice right away!

 

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