Vacations – Gotta Have ‘Em!

It cannot be denied … a little time off to do something completely different adds some variety to life.  Planning one can also be a blast and can give one something to anticipate.

However, for a practice, holiday times can be somewhat destructive to the maintaining of the highest quality patient care as a result of missing team members. A large practice often finds vacations detrimental because of the staff all rotating through a week or two off during the whole summer leaving the place short-handed for that whole period of time.  Small teams of 1-3 people definitely struggle with having even one person off.

Are there solutions for this?

The first thought that comes to your mind as a practice owner might be “No Vacations Allowed” policy.  If you enforced this policy, you could become the most unpopular practice in town to work for.  So scrap that idea.

There is a multitude of ways this can be handled, though, that can lessen the negative effect on the service to your clientele.  Coordination and cooperation are very important in the arranging of time off with your staffs.

Vacation Policy Options

  1. A smaller practice may find it best to just close for 2 weeks and that is the holiday time for the whole team with no exceptions allowed. This is not to say that big practices can’t do the same.
  1. Another concept is to have one week where the practice is closed and everyone is off, and then 1 week off at the choice of each staff member (but this has to be coordinated so no two staff are off at the same time).
  1. Then there is the situation of the practice owner wanting to be off for 4 – 6 weeks throughout the year and what to do about the staff during those times. Usually it would be most beneficial for staff to be taking their 1 – 3 weeks entitlement per year off on one of those times when the owner is away.  For the balance of the weeks off, the owner can select whether to pay the staff to be at work and do administrative functions, or work with the associates who are not off, etc.  Or he or she may choose to let the staff have the time off but be unpaid – some staff will be happy with this as they prefer the time off and some will not be pleased as they need the income, so this has to be mutually worked out.
  1. When you have a large staff with multiple associates, the associates should not take overlapping time off and their staff should be off at the same time as the associate for optimum functioning.

Setting the Policy

It is important that policy is set for what you decide.  This will give prediction and stability to the team to know what the rules are and work within them for the benefit of excellent service to the clientele of the practice.

If you are going to change your policy, you must give staff ample notice of the change – i.e. about 6 months.  Then sane planning can be done.

Vacation Pay Policy

Some practices struggle with paying salaries while staff are off and having to hire and pay temps at the same time.  One solution for this is to put the 4% vacation pay on each pay cheque for the staff throughout the year and then when someone is off, there is no pay due for that person during that time.  Many practices and businesses use this method.

Bottom Line

By efficient organizing of vacation times and following policy guidelines in doing so, it gives good prediction to everyone so they can organize and plan delightful times off and enjoy themselves.

Happy trails!


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