Vacation Leave Conflicts

August 2005

It’s August, and vacations are on the minds of most of your staff. Trouble is, most of them have asked to take off the same week, which would leave you very short-handed. What do you do?

Roll with the punches. !!! Work is slow now anyways.—Tom Gertz, Carpentry Collaborative Inc, Rosemont, Illinois

Vacation sign up sheet only has 4 spaces per week … first come, first served. With a few exceptions, of course. If you want off, Laura, just ask … no problem.—Jerry Reickes, Jarco Builders Ltd., Sioux City, Iowa

Based on the length of time with the company, combined with the position that they hold, they get priority in picking the vacation slots. The head of each department reserves the right to review each request and to reject any request that would leave the company without adequate staff. The sign-up period is at yearly review time for the following year. If the individual does not put in a request, then they lose their position and forfeit their choice—end result is that they will only get what is left available.
Example: As general manager of the company, I get first choice. At that time, we had not cemented in our vacation plans as we had to coordinate with the rest of the family. I passed. Only after everyone else got their chance did I get another time to choose. I took my vacation at a time passed over by others during the process.—Carl Fernald, Precision Plastering, Lake Elsinore, California

We require 30 days’ advance notice for a vacation (in writing, signed and dated), and we have a calendar that all employee’s requests go on. If there is a conflict you well see it 30 days before. Then it goes to first come, first served.—Kim H. Sides, President, Sides Drywall Inc., Auburn, Alabama

I would base all vacation requests on seniority for a given position. If two estimators asked for the same week [and wouldn’t miss] a critical deadline, then the estimator with the most company seniority would be given first choice. The same for all other positions. The only caveat is critical mission timing.—J. Patrick Boyd, Ray Boyd Construction System, Garland, Texas

We pray for rain!
We actually just deal with it. The timing is never right all of the time, and typically the vacation is worth more than the grumpy attitude caused by not taking any time off.—Chris Kirby, President, KirbyCo Builders, Inc., Jacksonville, Florida

We have had this problem in the past. We now have a calendar in the office that people [use to] reserve their vacation. We do not allow overlaps, so the people who plan ahead get the best weeks.—Jeff Collins, President, Les Collins Plastering, St. Joseph, Missouri

I would offer an extra day of vacation to any employee who would put off his August vacation until a slow month, say November!—Roger Burke, President, Southwest Lath & Plaster, Garland, Texas

We require all vacation requests be made in writing on a simple form available from the foreman or office. The leave and return dates are written in along with the date of the request.
We ask for a minimum of four weeks’ notice for a week off and less for a day or two. It is then based on a first-come, first-served basis. If there are too many people off during the same time period, we approach them all and ask if there is flexibility. If not, the last submitted (unless for a medical leave or family emergency) is told he will have to reschedule.
It isn’t a perfect system, but we haven’t had too many problems accommodating people’s requests to date.—Kevin Corcoran, President, The Corcoran Co., Ft. Collins, Colorado

We don’t allow vacations. Makes it simple.—Jim Keller, Vice President, Grayhawk, LLC, Louisville, Kentucky

Let the employees take off at the same time. It is only for a short time, a week or so max, and it would help their morale to go. If you refuse to let a couple of them go, morale will go down and you will have worse problems than just being shorthanded—you will be paying guys and they will not be doing good work. Let them go on vacation, suck it up briefly, and then get them to work hard and help get you out of a bind when they return.—Mike Cone, President, Southland Industries Inc., Thibodaux, Louisiana

Maintain a "time off” calendar for staff. Send out occasional reminders to submit requests for time off acknowledging that everyone will not be able to be off at the same time. It is simple, but it does credit those who are more efficient and follow the rules.—Robert A. Lingenfelter, President, Gibson-Lewis, LLC, Indianapolis, Indiana

Head off that problem by implementing the policy that no one in the same department can have the same week off unless it is an emergency. In that case, everyone is a team and the office should step up beyond the normal call of duty while their teammate is taking some well-deserved time off, because they would do it for them.—Brentt Tumey, MSI, Inc., Rogers, Arkansas