Employee Benefits

Revisiting Your Vacation Policy

By Judith Mewhort on March, 15 2022
3 minute read

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Spring break is right around the corner and many employees are eyeing their calendar, searching for flight deals, and stealing glances at potential AirBnB properties in the hope that they can get some much needed rest after a stressful winter. One thing you don’t want employees asking themselves is whether they can afford to use so many vacation days at once.

It’s an unfortunate reality that employees often ration their time off, taking less than they actually want and need, resulting in prolonged periods of burn-out and presenteeism that could’ve been easily avoided by a few extra days off. 

Canada’s vacation policy is the second worst among developed nations. (Only America offers fewer days per year). In most provinces, employees receive 10 days vacation after their first year of employment. That’s not much. For comparison, workers in France enjoy 30 paid vacation days per year and employees in Britain receive 28 days. Employers are beginning to realize that the minimum PTO requirement often isn’t enough for their employees and are looking for ways to increase it.  

In this blog, we’ll explain why you should offer more than the minimum number of vacation days each year and two potential ways to expand your vacation offering. 


The Benefits of More Time-Off

Why should you want your employees to work less? Time at work doesn’t mean time spent working. (We’ve all had days where we’ve spent more time with our minds at the beach than focused on the spreadsheet in front of us). 

Given more time-off, employees are more focused. Their time management improves and their productivity shoots up. Perhaps the reason is that instead of spending those days at work with their mind wandering all over the place, employees feel empowered to take the day off and let themselves get the rest that they body is calling out for. The other benefit is that employees always enjoy having more vacation time. It’s a great way to improve retention and to entice new employees to your business. 



Unlimited Vacation Policy

Employers are understandably weary of introducing an unlimited vacation policy, afraid that doing so will result in empty offices and missed deadlines. The reality of unlimited paid time off, however, is that employees take slightly more vacation than they normally would—and feel much better as a result. 

Employees care about their job. The temptation of unlimited vacation isn’t going to cause them to abandon their responsibilities at work for an extra week in Hawaii, especially when doing so would inevitably lead to the loss of their job and therefore the loss of the unlimited vacation they enjoy so much. They will continue to work hard and meet their deadlines. What they may do, however, is take an extra day off here or there to recharge after a busy period, allowing them to return to work recharged and ready to go.

There are downsides to unlimited vacation, for both the employer and employee. From the employer side, abuse of the policy can happen and there will be instances where employees need to be spoken to about its proper use. For employees, without a set number of days to take, they may feel bad requesting anytime off at all. 


Four Weeks Vacation

Unlimited vacation may not be right for every business. Indeed, it is still largely a niche offering, though it is growing in popularity. More common these days is businesses starting their PTO at four weeks for all employees, 

Even with unlimited vacation, it’s rare for employees to take more than four weeks vacation throughout the year. 

The benefit of offering four weeks of vacation is that there is a fixed number of days all employees can be expected to take. With proper time management and an effective time-off request system in place, there should be minimal issues handling employees using all their vacation days in a year. For employees, the set number of days feels like an obligation. Unlike unlimited vacation, where they can take as much or as little as they like, they know there are 20 days a year they can use—which is often plenty of days. There’s also the added benefit of accruing time when it comes to receiving a severance package.  



Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that adding more vacation days to your policy is a great way to boost the morale of your workplace, increase employee satisfaction, and potentially improve their productivity at the same time. Whether you decide to roll-out an unlimited PTO policy or simply increase the number of days off your employees, and your bottom line, will thank you.

Revisiting Employee Benefits in Light of COVID-19

Learn about changes in the employee benefits world and what these changes mean going forward for your organisation and how to best manage your benefits plan right now.


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