Attendance and PTO Scheduling Best Practices Around the Holidays

As the festive season rolls in, businesses must navigate employees’ varying requests for time off. This can be challenging for almost every business that doesn’t entirely shut down at year’s end, and is especially difficult in sectors like retail and travel. Navigating this period successfully requires a strategic approach to holiday PTO scheduling practices, keeping operational efficiency and employee needs in mind.

Attendance and PTO Scheduling Best Practices Around the Holidays

Crafting an Effective Holiday PTO Policy

The first step in managing holiday scheduling is simply establishing a comprehensive policy for holiday PTO scheduling practices. Developing effective holiday PTO policies for small businesses requires multiple aspects:

  • Evaluating Company Needs: Businesses must begin by evaluating actual labor needs during the holiday period. This may involve considering operating hours, holidays off and staffing needs. In general, businesses may want to reduce staffing needs as much as possible, without sacrificing necessary operations. (Holiday policies must abide by any applicable state laws.)
  • Detail Holidays and Operating Hours: Clearly specify which holidays your company observes, and what operating hours will be during this period. These should be communicated to employees as early as possible,
  • Fair Scheduling Practices: For businesses remaining open during holidays, it's important to explain the basis for scheduling decisions. This might include seniority-based systems, allowing employees to indicate their holiday work preferences, giving employees a specific number of holidays to request off (e.g. Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s), or other strategies.
  • Determining PTO Eligibility and Payment: Outline the criteria for holiday pay eligibility and the payment methods for both exempt and non-exempt employees. Policies could include additional compensation for holiday work, such as bonuses or shift differentials. A payroll service can simplify making sure any pay adjustments are correctly made.

Once the policy has been formalized and communicated, it can be properly implemented by all supervisors who have scheduling responsibilities.

Leveraging Technology for Efficient Scheduling

Digital human resources tools can greatly ease employee scheduling during the holidays. The right tools clearly communicate company policy, and can allow employees and supervisors to manage requests/scheduling. For instance, cloud software and mobile apps may facilitate requests, scheduling and shift trade requests.

Encouraging Employees During the Holidays

No matter how holiday scheduling and PTO requests are handled, businesses should treat employees with great respect this time of year. Businesses should be respectful of all requests and observances, thank the employees who work holidays, and generally do what they can support employees.

Get Help With Holiday PTO Scheduling

At Workforce PayHub, we specialize in helping businesses manage their employees -- including helping them develop holiday PTO scheduling practices. Get ahead of the holiday rush with Workforce PayHub’s time & labor management and payroll solutions. Contact us today for a free consultation to streamline your HR holiday planning.


Eric Jones
Master Year-End Payroll Like a Pro Creating a Workplace Winter Weather Policy
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