use 'em or lose 'em
Not much blog time tonight so I'll cheat and post something here that I wrote for an employee survey earlier today. Quick background: my employer has this wicked and evil policy of forced vacation time usage each calendar year, meaning I get to carry over exactly zero hours of vacation time to the next year. So every January my total available vacation days for the next 12 months automatically resets to my yearly base, and thus I must either burn all of my vacation time during the year or lose whatever I don't use. Yeah, so that vacation to Egypt last year that cost me more than my yearly allotment of days with my new job? Nope, not with this policy in place. Missions trips overseas that use up more than my yearly stash? Again, shot down. There are lots of adjectives and labels that could describe such a policy as this, but let's just be polite and leave it at total bullbleep.
But anyway, on to the featured presentation...
The cancellation of any and all paid leave carryover from year to year (except in VERY extraordinary circumstances) is a draconian policy that I've never seen in any industry before and one that needs to be lifted. On paper this is made out to be a good idea and an attempt to ensure employees are happier at work by making them take due time off. But is someone who is forced to take days off simply because he/she'd rather do nothing at home than come to work really taking full advantage of that time off? Is that person glad he/she had to take the time away from work? Or would he/she be much happier both on and off the job if given more flexibility with how and when to use time off?
There are several very good reasons someone would want to carry over vacation days from one year to the next. The most obvious is that it allows for an extended length of time away from work. This is significant for employees who would like to spend time with relatives abroad, or those who would like to participate in foreign service or missionary programs that often last several weeks and become much more expensive if one does not go with the prearranged schedule. Currently the only way to do this without taking unpaid leave is to go on vacation during the winter so that paid leave from different years can be used in the same stretch of days off.
It would also help employees who end up taking more time off then planned (in other words, all of us at one time or another). In my case, for example, I have most of my vacation time remaining for this year with no set plans for extended time away from the job. Yet under the current rules I will be required to use that time before the end of the year. In effect this is wasted time off, as I have neither the money nor the arrangements to travel extensively and I will be spending weeks away from the job that could have been better spent helping with other projects. It would be much better for me to just carry over this time and have some in reserve in case, say, someone in my family were to become seriously injured and need constant care for some time, or for other reasons I was required to take more time away from the job than I had expected. In such cases I (and anyone else) would much rather use carryover time than have to potentially rework vacation plans or take leave without pay later in the year.
I can see some reasons my Business Unit would want employees to use vacation in a consistent manner from year to year, but there are far more advantages to a more flexible system. And to claim that the current policy somehow benefits us more than the previous one is simply absurd. I hope that this is a temporary system that will be changed soon to allow for more freedom with paid leave. A company that prides itself on being an "Outstanding Place to Work" needs to join the ranks of every other employer I've ever worked for and allow employees more choice in this matter.