Spread Some Holiday Cheer With a Look At Your Paid Holiday Policy

Spread Holiday Cheer With PTOThe holiday season can be tricky in a lot of ways: family dynamics, travel plans, schedules, and work expectations all converge to influence the spirit of the season. And if you have to work while your family is celebrating, things can get downright depressing.

For millions of Americans, November and December bring up questions like: Who will be working on which days? Who gets first pick of paid time off? What if I celebrate a different holiday—can I still take vacation for my holiday of choice?

As business owners consider their holiday vacation policies, these questions can help determine the best way to make sure every employee has a happy holiday.

Celebrate Diversity All Season Long

If we’re not careful, our approach to the holidays can create morale problems among employees, especially when vacation days are at a premium. A diverse workforce usually means you’ll have diverse holiday plans too, and it’s important to make sure everyone gets a chance to take time off with family. That means considering different holiday preferences and creating a fair way to grant PTO.

Here are a few ideas for making sure you respect the diversity represented on your team while accommodating as many PTO requests as possible:

  • Offer a Floating Holiday—The Society for Human Resources Management reports that just 36% of organizations offer floating holidays. But this option might be one of the best ways to ensure that every employee can celebrate the holiday of their choice with a day off from work. Floating holidays can be used at any time over the course of the year.
  • Grant PTO Fairly—If PTO requests are granted to more senior employees first, new hires may always be stuck working holiday hours. Instead, many organizations utilize a first-come, first-served policy. In addition to keeping things fair, this arrangement also encourages employees to make their plans early.
  • Offer Premium Pay for Holiday Work—Even if you can’t afford to pay employees double time for working on Christmas, consider offering other perks like gift cards or a comp day they can use later.
  • Consider Allowing Employees to Swap HolidaysFifteen percent of companies allow employees to work on a company-paid holiday in exchange for not working on another holiday that isn’t offered. Swapping holidays is a great idea if you can make it work, but it’s difficult to pull off. If the business is closed on Christmas Day, for example, it’s not possible for an employee to work that day in exchange for Yom Kippur.
  • Offer Additional Paid Holidays—Most organizations offer 7 or 8 paid holidays over the course of the year. However, some companies offer 10 or more holidays, including celebrations like Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, or Good Friday.

Communicate Expectations

There are no laws governing when and how businesses must offer paid time off for holidays. That means decisions must be communicated clearly to employees to avoid misunderstandings. Your PEO can help you create clear policy language, manage vacation requests, and answer questions from employees to make sure everyone stays happy this holiday season.


About the Author: Susan McClure is our resident content marketer at PEOCompare.com. She writes about HR outsourcing, HRIS, and general employment issues. When she isn't writing, you might find her browsing shelves at the library, exploring a local hiking trail, or digging in the garden with her family and fur kids.