Ask an HR Expert – Are we obligated to carry-forward vacation days?Micheline Maillet | June 27th, 2012 | HR Consulting News, News & Events
In every HR Connection, one of our HR experts will answer a frequently asked question from our readers. If you have a question, please don’t hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we may select it for our next issue!
I have an employee who never takes all of his vacation days by the end of the year. He has over five years of service and is entitled to three weeks vacation but his vacation bank continues to increase every year. Do we have to keep carrying-forward his vacation or can we decide that he will simply lose his days?
While many employers allow employees the courtesy of selecting their preferred vacation days, it is important to note that legally vacation dates are at the discretion of the employer and not the other way around.
If an employee refuses to take his vacation you can schedule his vacation for him, but must give him four weeks’ notice of his upcoming vacation dates. Therefore, you have no obligation to carry-forward vacation days and an employee cannot lose the untaken days to which he is entitled by law since it is ultimately up to the employer to select and notify employees of their vacation dates.
Often the reason that employees do not want to take their vacation is because they feel they will have to compensate by working overtime in order to keep up with their workload or they are afraid that no one can replace them if there is a problem during their absence. To resolve this, the employee’s immediate supervisor should sit down with them before their vacation to help them adequately plan their workload during their absence and assign tasks to others as needed.
If it happens frequently that employees do not take their vacation, it is important to first understand why that is and to then consider what solutions are possible to avoid this from happening. For example, perhaps the workload needs to be reorganized or more evenly distributed, more personnel may be needed (whether temporary or full-time), or employees may need to be cross-trained in order to effectively replace each other during their absences.
It is important to ensure that all employees use their vacation as this time allows employees to unwind and return to work rested and more productive. Employees who have a habit of not taking vacation can be at high risk of having a burnout or suffering from other medical problems associated with stress which as a result can have a negative impact on their performance and your business.
Please note that the information provided in this bulletin consists of general guidelines and that there are many exceptions and special cases that could apply.
Summer 2012 Issue