An article from the Fox Small Business Center got me thinking about the ability of small business owners to take time off for the holidays, or at any other time during the year. For many owners (e.g., retailers; those in the hospitality industry), the holiday season is crunch time and they can’t afford to be away from their businesses. Many employees of these small businesses also have to work despite the holidays.
Time off policy
Are you required to give employees time off for Christmas or New Years? While these two days are federally-designated holidays and federal workers typically get time off (December 26, 2011, for Christmas this year since it falls on a Sunday and January 2, 2012, because New Year’s Day is also on a Sunday), you are not legally required to give employees days off for federal or state holidays. Employees usually can be required to work on holidays, but many companies give specific days off.
Caution: You must make a reasonable accommodation for the religious practices of your employees, unless you can show that the accommodation would result in undue hardship for your business. Take this into account during this holiday season.
There are 10 federal holidays each year. According to Salary.com, most companies give nine or 10 of these days as paid holidays to employees. Some companies also recognize state holidays (e.g., Patriots Day in Massachusetts). Now is a good time for you to think ahead about the paid holidays you plan to give your employees in 2012. Find a list of federal holidays here.
A great resource to help you in making vacation decisions for your staff is Inc.’s "How to Set a Workplace Vacation Policy."
Closing for the holidays
For some businesses, the holidays are slow business-wise and an opportunity for owners and employees to enjoy time off. Decide whether this works for you, and what pay policy to apply to employees. Continuing to pay wages during this period can be a very well-appreciated holiday gift (provided that you can afford it).
Many business owners start out with the notion that they are free to set their own work schedules, but soon reality sets in and owners find that they work long and hard, and have difficulty taking time off. Consider the benefits that time off during this holiday season can have for you:
- Health—those who do not take vacations experience more health issues and, according to one study, reduced life expectancy.
- Rekindle relationships—owners often short-change their family and friends throughout the year, so spending time with them now can be a big plus.
- Creativity—time away from the company can help you refocus your thoughts and energies.
Whatever you decide to do about your vacation policy and time off, let’s all look forward to a prosperous New Year!