Develop vacation policy to avoid scheduling conflicts

Summer season brings out “vacation fever” among staffers, reminding you of the importance of a clear, fair, and written policy concerning vacation coverage. Without such a policy, expect employee conflict. And more importantly, small or mid-sized practices have a hard time functioning smoothly if more than one or two employees vacation simultaneously. A sound vacation policy helps protect your practice productivity.

But whose request takes priority? A clear “first-come, first-served” policy helps keep conflict to a minimum. You may find it appropriate to consider seniority as a factor, too.

For example, staffers with the most seniority submit vacation dates first—one by one according to hire date. But set a firm cut-off date, after which you assign vacations on a first-request basis. Or turn it the other way around: Begin with a first-request policy (with a deadline). If a conflict arises that can’t be resolved between the employees, use seniority as the final factor.

Always reserve the right to say “no” to a vacation request—even from a senior employee—if the time off will hamper your practice significantly.

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