Sunday, July 10, 2016


Have we forfeited supervisory and administrative responsibility 
by giving too many holidays with pay?

Who doesn't love a holiday off.

This year the 4th of July holiday was easier for employers to schedule since it fell on a Monday, but you may have had people call in sick or take another day off causing some disruption.  One year I called in sick the day after the 4th of July.  This is a no no.  According to policy I was to bring in a note from my doctor or lose out on the pay.  It was doubly embarrassing because I worked for Human Resources! 

When I worked at a university as a professor whether employees had Martin Luther King day off varied from year to year.  Some years classes weren’t scheduled so professors didn’t come in.  On other years, support staff had the day off, but classes were running.  A newly merged YMCA-YWCA closed for Martin Luther King day in keeping with the YWCA mission to end racism.  Later years, it remained open but had special events to honor MLK.  Many employees take the week of the 4th off for summer vacation so it is a planned vacation.  A lot of governments give the day off Thanksgiving even though it is not a scheduled holiday.  Watch next year to see if your governor gives state employees these days off.  For some nonprofits, those with pools or camps, its full steam ahead on the 4th. No day off.  These decisions show the many issues nonprofit and government employers face when it comes to a holiday.  

A town manager I know presented the cost of giving an extra day off to employees.  With spreadsheets and query programs, you can figure out exactly how much it costs in wages and benefits to give employees an extra holiday.  Even with the cost most nonprofit and government employers no longer bother to force their non-exempt employees to do without pay if they are sick the day after a holiday.  They bite the bullet and eat the cost.  

Others have opted for Paid Time Off (PTO) combining sick, vacation, bereavement, other leaves, and sometime holidays.  Rolling in holidays allows employees to choose what holidays are important.  (Employees with children in school may want Columbus Day off when their kids are off but others don’t care.)  PTO avoids a managerial problem of having to actually supervise employees and a bureaucratic problem of ensuring employees are using their sick time for sickness or family sickness.  The downside is that when an employee leaves they are owed for time unused whereas when leaves are separate, employees are only owed only for vacation time.  (Of course, some employers also pay out unused sick time but that isn’t required.)

Employers justify giving, say, the day after Thanksgiving or the day before Christmas assuming that very little work is actually done.  I think they are right.  Except those working in healthcare, nonprofit and government employees are very lucky to have these extra days.  

Is this a good enough reason, low productivity, or are we opting out of managing employee expectations, managing employee sick time at the expense of taxpayers, members, clients?  What do you think?  By the way, my employer, a hospital, did pay me without requiring a doctor’s note.  The town council approved a day off after Thanksgiving.

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