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Your team members might already be thinking about how they’ll spend their summer vacation time. It’s been a long, hard winter, so wanting a break is understandable.

The question facing most of us in HR right now is what leave policies look like. Will you need to manage leave differently? Will it be back to “normal” or do you need to keep the policies you developed last year?

No matter what this summer looks like, being prepared is key. We put together this guide to help you get started.

What Leave Can You Offer?

The first thing to do is to take stock of what leave you have on offer. Do your employees have vacation that they rolled over from last year? Did they defer time off due to lockdowns last spring? Has everyone been laid off since December and you asked them to use up all their sick leave and vacation to bridge the gap?

What your leave policies will look like probably depend on your situation. If your team’s been off for most of the winter, they could be torn between taking time off and being available during re-opening. Rumours of a third wave and uncertainty about the future could affect their decision.

You might be tempted to let them work hard all summer if they want, especially if they’ve already used up all their leave. You may still want to offer some time off, to help people maintain their work-life balance and look after their mental health.

Still, it could be difficult for you to offer additional leave if your business has finally re-opened. You may need to offer unpaid leave instead.

If your team has vacation they’ve rolled over from last year, different issues can arise. You might have everyone trying to take multiple overlapping weeks of vacation or other situations that could grind operations to a halt.

Create Policies Around Taking Available Leave

If you do have leave available for your team, then you must create policies around taking it. These may be stricter rules than you normally enforce. If your team has a ton of leave time, though, it could be important.

Examples might include limiting the number of consecutive weeks that can be taken together. You could also put down policies about how many people can be off at the same time. You might decide to award holidays for popular long weekends or “vacation weeks” on a first-come, first-serve basis, or you may go by seniority.

Don’t be afraid to get creative. If everyone in marketing is asking for the same two weeks off, would it make sense to just declare a department holiday? Think about how this would affect other departments. You might also take the opposite approach and create “blackout dates,” when no time off will be granted.

You may be able to delay certain projects or keep a “skeleton crew” in the office. Don’t forget about hiring either. Is it possible to bring on interns, summer students, or part-time temporary team members to help fill in the gaps? If you’re anticipating people wanting a lot of time off, then you’ll want to get started on hiring now.

Stay Flexible

The final piece of advice is to stay flexible. It’s impossible to know when or if businesses will return to operating at full capacity. It might happen this summer, but there may also be further restrictions. Also keep in mind that some employees will not want to take time off, especially if they’ve been out of work. Encourage people to still take time for themselves, so as to avoid burnout.

The right technology can help you do everything from manage leave to hire and onboard new team members. With it, keeping a close eye on both productivity, accrued leave time, and individual schedules is easier. Get in touch with our team to discover how an HRIS can help you manage your team the smart way this summer!

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Margaret Reid

As the senior vice-president of Apri Insurance Services Inc., Margaret is a benefits consultant and manager of technical support. She has almost 40 years of experience in employee benefits as well as processing health and dental claims, benefits administration, and client service and groups sales. Margaret worked at Crown Life, a major insurance carrier, for 20 years, then worked at CG&B as the manager of their group department. She moved to B.Comm Financial Insurance Solutions in 2007, which merged with several other benefit consulting companies in 2011 to create Apri Insurance Services Inc. Margaret has unintentionally followed in her father’s footsteps. He was a group sales rep with Crown Life when she was a child and helped her get her first job in group insurance, which led to her current career path.

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