Summer Vacations

Sometimes we run into problems here in summer months when many employees wish to go on vacation, but we need to maintain certain staff levels.  I am wondering what policies you all use in terms of vacations when it comes to ensuring staff levels are adequate. In other words, how do you determine who has "preference" over another employee when it comes time to too many requesting the same period of time (same week) off? 

Is it based on seniority?  First-come first-served? How far in advance do you require employees to designate their vacations/put in their requests?


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  • We let workers sign up for vacations by seniority.

    Since we are a manufacturing company, we have to make sure that we have someone available to "cover" for the missing worker in their function in our process.  If not, we try to use this as an excuse for crosstraining on machines, etc.

  • Fortunately for us, we've got extra help/employees during summer months (high school and college students) which is our busiest time.

     But I think it's a good practice to establish a minimum "notice" for vacation requests (the number of months in advance you would want to require this probably depends somewhat on your industry--but since it appears to be a problem at your company, maybe more is better--3 months?) OR if you're really concerned about it,  just have everyone who is employed in December submit their vacation requests for the following year (I'm referring to longer vacations of a week or more, not requiring them to take designate instances where they may take a day off here or there during the year).  And if there are any conflicts, going by seniority seems fair, plus it provides you with a quick resolution of any issues that arise (you can just point to your policy)..

  • We also have to be very careful when allowing employees vacation time.  We are a manufacturer and with May-July very busy it can be touchy.  Also, we have a lot of very tenured employees and when we tried to do this by seniority it seemed the same people we're getting their vacation when they wanted, which didn't seem very fair to the newer employees.  So what we have done is put this to a set number per week per department and it is by first come first serve.  This will be our second year in doing this and last year was a huge success.  We also posted for the heaviest weeks how many could be gone, that way if an employee checks the calendar he can see how many available spots there are. 

  • Thanks Cindy--that's a terrific idea posting how many employees the company is allowing per week during the busiest weeks.  That way, there's no mystery for someone putting in a request as to whether the week is going to be available.  Plus, I hear what you're saying about seniority and fairness, which is why I was hesitant to make the policy based on seniority.

    Thanks to all of you for your advice!

  • I think that seniority should be used to break a tie when deciding who gets to go on vacation after all other factors have been weighed.
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