At the beginning of last fiscal year (July 2020), VISIONS was tasked with revising and updating our employee handbook. During that process, we were presented with latest research when deciding how to update our leave policy for staff. This was important as our entire office was now remote due to COVID-19. The options we were presented with were the traditional and untraditional. Options like:
(1) employees were given a certain number of days upfront for vacation and sick days that they could draw from throughout the year;
(2) employees accumulated vacation and sick days throughout the year and are able to use as those hours grow;
or a policy that I heard of but had never worked for an organization that implemented such: (3) an open leave policy that doesn’t distinguish between vacation or sick leave, and there was no tracking of the number of days or hours but only HR was tasked w/ tracking the frequency to make sure the policy was not being abused. After considering all the options for our leave policy, we decided to implement an Open Leave policy.
Research1 shows that offering an open leave policy does not lead to rampant abuse of the policy, a deserted office, and the death of a business as so many fear. In a similar vein, many that were against remote working pre-pandemic now see that it does and can work. Open leave policy attracts quality employees who appreciate being treated like adults, and it makes those valuable people that want to stick around. It leads to an increase in productivity and work quality and proves that adage we’ve heard for years now: work smarter, not harder. 2
VISIONS believes that everyone needs time off work to relax and recharge. We maintain an “open” leave policy that does not restrict our salaried/full-time employees to a specific number of paid sick or vacation days. However, this policy is not an “unlimited” paid leave policy. Instead, we expect that our employees are conscientious professionals, who will manage their time away from the office in concert with their job responsibilities. So far, the Open Leave policy has been working. Our staff take the time they need and make sure that their duties are covered while they are away. They also make sure their work is done before taking time off. We still do require approval for time off in the form of written request to their supervisor/manager.
by Nikki Glass, VP of Admin, VISIONS.