Dealing with Two Employees with Overlapping Vacation Requests Without the Appearance of Favoritism

Hrvoje Š.
5 Min Read

Establish an official procedure for submitting vacation requests, including when and how often people can make them, consider the eligibility period, institute policy for overlapping requests. 

Statistics on vacation time in the US

In a US workforce survey by Quickbooks, 76% of respondents indicated that companies should provide paid vacation. 74% said employees should get paid sick time and paid holidays. As of 2024, 79% of private sector workers get paid vacation, 81% get paid holidays, and 77% – paid sick leave, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Still, vacation is unregulated by federal law, which means companies don’t have to offer their employees any vacation time.

The procedure for submitting vacation requests 

If you’re one of the employers who do offer vacation, you can take measures to prevent overlapping requests. It starts with establishing one procedure for all employees to follow. Team members who are used to the old way of doing things will probably start asking you to make an exception for them, which you shouldn’t. Choose an effective procedure and make it the norm.

When are employees allowed to ask for vacations?

Let’s say November is always a very busy month for your business. The hectic workflow tends to spill over into December and January. Imagine that most of your employees ask for vacations during these three months. 

You could make it a policy that no one can go on vacation during November, December, and January. This could also apply to other special, regularly occurring events that affect company operations. To avoid conflict, list those specific times of the year. Also, list when employees can request vacation.

Policy for making vacation requests 

Each employee is unique in terms of their financial obligations, personal life, and work ethic. Some love to work and others don’t. You need to have a rule in place for how often requests can be made. This prevents overlapping requests and employees from asking to go on vacation too often. Ultimately, a business survives and thrives when it has hard-working, reliable employees. Use a weekly schedule template to track employees’ previous requests. This will help ensure fairness and avoid favoritism. 

Consider the eligibility period 

More than 50% of employers offer eligibility for paid time off (64%) and vacation (53%) from the very beginning of the employment term. Businesses are most likely to give first-year employees 6-10 vacation days and 15 or more days for paid time off. This is not a surprising difference because paid time off consolidates vacation, personal days, and sick leave, unlike conventional vacation plans that employees use only to go on vacation. 38% of employers tend to offer up to 20 days of vacation, and the same percentage offer 21 to 25 days. The maximum provision for paid time off is 25 days.

Establish procedures for overlapping requests

You took all of the above measures, but you’re still getting overlapping requests. Your mind has been made up, but you don’t want to be accused of favoritism. Common ways to deal with overlapping vacation requests include first come, first served, seniority-based, and employee flexibility.

The principle of “first come, first served” applies to most things in life, so why shouldn’t it apply to overlapping vacation requests? However, keep in mind this policy is only a starting point and might not be effective in each case. At the very least, you might have two employees making simultaneous requests. 

Employees understand that rank comes with seniority. That means an employee who’s been with the company longer would have their vacation request honored on a seniority basis.

The flexibility of the request is another factor. The majority of vacation request forms don’t ask how flexible the employee is about the dates. Moreover, employees will not indicate that they are flexible because they always want the boss to approve their requests.

Given these facts, you could just ask how flexible the vacation requests are. If you explain your dilemma to your employees, they might be willing to change their plans

We hope this article has been useful and that handling overlapping vacation requests will become easier.

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