Setting Up Shop: The Basics of Employee Holidays
Q: “I just hired a team for my new business. Am I required to give my staff employee holidays?”
Many small-business owners, especially those who are just starting out, think that employee benefits can be delayed or overlooked. Even simple benefits such as employee holidays can be a hindrance to smooth regular operations and can cost an employer a lot. The truth is that they can choose not to give these benefits. The law does not require you to give employee holidays to your staff. However, while you are thinking of the pinching a penny now, this may not be good for you in the long run.
The prosperity of your business will rely on your team’s performance in it, which ultimately rests on morale. While they are compensated, employees need these benefits to feel valued and appreciated for their work. Many companies offer some or all benefits available – from simple ones such as holidays to more comprehensive ones such as medical, to ensure that they have the best people applying to be in their team and also to be able to keep their people happy. If you can’t afford all the benefits that bigger companies provide, employee holidays is a good benefit to extend to your staff.
Employee holidays relay the message to your employees that you care for their well-being, beliefs, and time. Most employers give paid holidays for New Year’s, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and Thanksgiving day and Christmas day. A lot of employers also let their staff go on leave without pay, which is a good compromise if you aren’t able to afford full-paid leaves.
The legal stuff: If you are starting a big company, you will be required to follow the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which requires the company to give its employees up to 12 weeks off when someone gives birth or adopts a baby, or if there is a matter of a serious health concern, whether it is by the employee or by any immediate family member. After 12 weeks of unpaid leave, the person can claim his/her position back or an equivalent role. This amount of time can be taken in different periods of time, instead of taking it all at once. Some states impose laws on employee holidays. To be sure, you can contact your state’s labor offices.
The expectation and reality: If you are hiring full-time employees, they would usually expect one to two weeks paid vacation time annually. When explaining this to your employees, you can define how far ahead before the date the request for leave time should be made in writing. You can also allow for clauses that define emergencies or provide them leave for family sickness and death.
At the end of the day, everyone needs rest and time to reset in order to function better in their roles. While you are not required by law to give your employees holidays, it is best for you to keep their interests in mind. It will serve your business better in the long run.