This week we tackled a very sensitive issue. We're re-writing our vacation and sick pay policies. As a part of our commitment to the staff to communicate more openly, we are discussing this as a group in our Monday (voluntary) leadership meetings. I drafted a new policy for discussion purposes, which was our starting point for the conversation.
One of the first changes I want to make is to eliminate the distinction between vacation and sick pay. Currently, we have vacation pay and sick pay. Those who do not use their sick days do not get paid for the unused days. I actually have one full-time employee who has been with us for almost three years who has never had a sick day. Another has had just two sick days in three years. Under the new policy we will have "paid time off" that can be used for vacation or sick days. Unused days will be paid in the first pay period of the new calendar year. I didn't have to sell this idea at all - everyone was totally on board with the change.
The second significant change I want to make is to award the paid time off in "hours" not days. We have team members who work short shifts like four hours, and others who work ten hours a day. When time off is granted in terms of "days" it's confusing to determine just how much paid time off someone gets. Basically, we'll be converting days of paid time off to hours for ease of administration. For example, full time employee who earns 5 days of paid time off per year will actually be awarded 40 hours of paid time off (5 days x 8 hours per day). Part-timers will get less paid time off, based upon how many hours they regularly work. For example, 5 days of paid time off for a part-timer may be 30 hours per year (5 days x 6 hours per day). It took some explaining to get everyone on board with this concept, but once I managed to explain it properly everyone was in agreement.
Our plan is to offer 8 paid days off after one year of service. The next step is to figure out how people can earn more than the 8 days (which is basically replacing 5 vacation days and 2 sick days + an extra). The jury is still out on this one. Some want to base it soley on years of service. Others want to make it something that is earned by more than just sticking around. My biggest concern is making it something the company can afford to pay! Most of our team members have been with us for at least two years, so we could be taking on a sizable commitment.
We adjourned the meeting without a final policy. We'll continue next Monday. I'm very pleased at the participation we're getting for our voluntary Monday meetings, and equally pleased at how fair and balanced the group is as a whole. There's always the fear when you open things up to the team like this, that they will be very one-sided. But they've been very good about balancing what they want with what makes sense to the business.
It may take a few more weeks to get this policy finalized but when we do, it will be the product of the team so I'm sure we'll have the buy-in to make it a success.