PTO Requests During Summer

How to Deal with PTO Requests During the Summer

For many organizations, summertime is a time of increased PTO requests. Children are out of school, making it an ideal time for family vacations. These increased requests can leave your organization scrambling to determine which requests to accept and how to cover work when people are out if you don’t have a detailed PTO policy in place.

Your PTO policies should be able to stand up to peak request seasons, to ensure fair and equitable practices that allow you to maintain productivity. Communicate how requests will be handled, any restrictions, and any requirements employees must meet to have their request approved.

Develop Clear Policies About PTO Management

Well-developed PTO policies reduce confusion and conflict during peak vacation seasons. Consider these peak seasons when determining how to address PTO, keeping in mind important factors such as:

  • How many people can we spare at any given time?
  • How will we maintain productivity when different people are out of the office?
  • How can we limit requests during busy periods?
  • How will we keep up with who will be out and when?
  • How do we ensure employees are aware of the PTO policies?

Answering these questions is the first step to managing requests for PTO effectively. Check your state’s laws when determining how to regulate your company’s PTO.

PTO Restrictions

Some organizations set restrictions on PTO during certain times of the year. This can mean refusing any PTO requests, except emergencies during a known busy season, or restricting the number of people who can be out during these periods. This can also involve restricting how many days a person can request at one time.

When setting restrictions for how many people can take off at a given time, clearly communicate how requests will be processed during this time. This can be first come first serve, seniority-based, or any other factors you want to use.

Setting Deadlines to Request PTO

To help regulate how many people are out at a given time, set deadlines for employees to request PTO. If employees have a deadline, they are more likely to plan, giving time to make adjustments as needed, and ensuring important projects are covered.

Make sure employees are aware of times that are no longer available for requesting PTO so they can adjust as needed. You can set up a calendar that is accessible for employees to help them check for available times. If you plan to use a calendar, make sure you appoint someone to take responsibility for keeping it updated.

It is best practice to include a deadline throughout the year for PTO requests, though some organizations set deadlines only for specific periods such as summer.

Providing Incentives

While it’s important to let employees take time off, you don’t want to interrupt productivity, especially during busy times. To reduce PTO overload during certain periods, consider offering incentives for employees who request PTO during non-peak times of the year.

Extra PTO is a simple and popular incentive you can use. If employees are willing to wait to take PTO, offer them an extra day off.

Look for Cross-Training Opportunities

Cross-training is beneficial to ensure operational needs are met during peak vacation times. Look for opportunities to cross-train within and across departments so you have people to cover important projects or deadlines when employees request PTO.

Performance appraisals are a great time to discuss these opportunities. Ask questions about career goals and review cross-training opportunities that will help employees meet these goals.

Best Practices for PTO Requests

While PTO policies should be easily accessible for employees throughout the year, it is a good idea to remind everyone of the policies when coming up on peak vacation times such as summer. Send a company-wide message to ensure everyone understands. Make sure to send these reminders well before request deadline periods so employees have time to plan.

If you know you have important projects or deadlines coming up, make sure to communicate these early. Give employees a clear understanding of their duties regarding these important deadlines so they can make sure they plan vacations around these needs.

Encourage employees to unplug from work during their PTO. Taking time off is useful to reduce burnout, but only if employees are not monitoring work during this time.

Most importantly, make sure you are managing PTO requests consistently and fairly. Follow your policies for all requests and give everyone the same opportunity to have their requests approved.

Develop Consistent Policies Across Your Company

The policies you put in place should be active guidelines for running your business. Whether it is managing PTO requests or developing operational procedures, consistency is key.

If you are unsure about how your company policies stand up to your needs, let us work with you to complete a compliance audit. We will review your policies and help you determine any gaps or concerns, providing the resources and tools to develop clear policies designed to help your business thrive.


Written By: Penny Clark

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