Question about paid/unpaid scheduled/unscheduled leave policies
Posted: 21 January 2010 12:21 PM   [ Ignore ]
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My company has a policy which I’m being told is fairly standard practice.  But in all my research I’m not finding that this is the case.  The long and short of it is this…  For unscheduled leave, we allow an employee to call in on the day of unscheduled leave and request that the day counts as 8 hours of vacation, and thus they get paid.  We also count the day as an “occurrence,” or a full unexcused absence.  Is this common practice?  Any and all comments are welcome.

Thanks, J

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Posted: 22 January 2010 11:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Seems fairly standard practice.  The allotment of time (using your paid time off) the day of the occurrence would largely be based on pay frequency
(how often they process checks).  Differences between temp vs. direct and the industry you are in would also play as a factor in the equation.  Maybe more information would help clarify the situation.

Aaron Lintz
Navicus - Client Development

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Posted: 22 January 2010 11:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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In the Postal Service, we would call that Emergency Annual Leave.  Because it is unscheduled, it is limited to emergencies and—if appropriate—documentation can be required.  It’s not “unexcused,” because granting Annual Leave requires approval, but—being unscheduled—it would be a matter of concern if the employee had 2 or more additional unscheduled absences during the same 6 months’ period.  We also have paid Sick Leave that works roughly the same way.  As a general rule, unscheduled sick leave that exceeds 3 days in duration requires medical documentation.  I have no way of knowing how “common” our practices would be considered.

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Posted: 22 January 2010 11:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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We have a similar policy where an unscheduled absence happens the employee must call at least 30-60 minutes before their scheduled start time, they can request the day be applied to their PTO bank.

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Posted: 22 January 2010 11:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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In my experience, the default is not to use a vacation day unless the absence is unrelated to being sick.  If they’re sick, most employers require use of accrued sick time.  If they’re out of sick time, its either unpaid (watch for exempt/non-exempt issues) or they’re permitted to use vacation time.  A company has an interest in minimizing the amount of unpaid sick leave since it’s carried on the books as a current liability.  It also has an interest related to disability issues - disciplining or terminating someone for XX occurrences could be a problem in some circumstances.

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Posted: 22 January 2010 12:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Depends.  What is your purpose of tracking unexcused absences?  Does it really effect your business if the employee calls in?  You give your employees sick and vacation time and the employee is going to use, so does it matter if they use it by calling in the day of the event.  If you do not allow them to use the paid off time now, they are still going to use at a latter date, so now the employee misses more work.  Do you really want the employee not to get paid, unpaid employees are unhappy employees.  You have to look at the nature of your business and how this effects your business, each business is different.  HR purpose is not just to see what other companies do but what effect does the policy have on your business and how can you create a policy that makes sense to your business.  Employees feel that are entitled to their vacation and sick time and if you try to control it without rhyme or reason you create a dictatorship and unhappy employees and unhappy employees are unproductive employees.

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Posted: 22 January 2010 12:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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We also allow an employee to call in and report an unscheduled absence,  usually for an illness or an emergency.  Payment for this time would come from their banked PTO or sick time.  Not sure what you mean as an “occurence” but the employee’s direct supervisor would be responsible for tracking these unscheduled absences and monitoring their frequency and the impact the absence has on the department.  If unscheduled leave became a habit without reasonable explanations then the supervisor would document and deal with the problem.

However, that said, we are pretty understanding since life happens to all of us.  I wouldn’t want to work in an environment that didn’t give an employee the flexibility to deal with a family emergency, or home repair emergency or illness without worrying about losing a job or having to face disciplinary action because the furnance was out, or a pipe froze, or tree fell on the house or whatever.

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Posted: 22 January 2010 12:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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We are pretty tough with ours.  We have PTO, not separate vacation or sick.  If someone calls in the morning of an absence and it was not previously approved, it is unscheduled and after 7 unscheduled absences in a year employment is terminated.  Perhaps to some this seems harsh, but if everyone had something come up, i.e., water pipes freezing in the winter at the same time and called in - who does the work and provides customer service to our members?  And if employees have managed their absences well and kept their unscheduled occurrences to 0 or few, there won’t be an issue at all.

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Posted: 22 January 2010 01:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Our process is similar to yours.  We are a manufacturing company that does not have sick leave.  If an employee calls in at the last minute indicating he/she can’t come to work then a review is conducted when the employee returns to determine if the absence was acceptable or not.  We know that life events happen to people and we will be understanding up to a point.  If unscheduled absences get excessive then we work with the employee to overcome his/her issues.  If the unscheduled absences are due to illness, then we have to be careful so we don’t interfere with FMLA or ADA rights.

If the employee has vacation time available, we allow them to use a day of vacation if they want to so they can get paid for that day.  However, getting paid for the day doesn’t change the fact it may have been an unacceptable occurrence and it will be addressed accordingly.

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Posted: 22 January 2010 02:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Gale Yunker - 22 January 2010 05:05 PM

We also allow an employee to call in and report an unscheduled absence,  usually for an illness or an emergency.  Payment for this time would come from their banked PTO or sick time.  Not sure what you mean as an “occurence” but the employee’s direct supervisor would be responsible for tracking these unscheduled absences and monitoring their frequency and the impact the absence has on the department.  If unscheduled leave became a habit without reasonable explanations then the supervisor would document and deal with the problem.

However, that said, we are pretty understanding since life happens to all of us.  I wouldn’t want to work in an environment that didn’t give an employee the flexibility to deal with a family emergency, or home repair emergency or illness without worrying about losing a job or having to face disciplinary action because the furnance was out, or a pipe froze, or tree fell on the house or whatever.

We follow the same exact rule. You sound like you was talking about my home town..lol.

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Posted: 22 January 2010 02:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I agree this is pretty typical, however, if you want to discourage call-offs, you should not allow the use of vacation.  It should be made clear that vacation days must be scheduled with at least one week’s notice and vacation weeks with a longer notice.

Jeff Raider
C3Group

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Posted: 25 January 2010 09:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Your policy is very similar to yours. We grant the request for vacation pay, but the time-off counts as an occurrence. We have had no problems with this approach.

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