A few employees have approached me and asked if they could “swap” holidays. They don’t observe Christmas and would prefer to work on that day and take another day off. Do other employers do this? What should I think about if I allow it?
According to a recent article by SHRM, only 18% of employers allow for such a holiday swap. In the survey, the majority of employers report paying premiums for employees working on the scheduled holiday rather than allowing to holiday swap. The biggest problem with such a swap is for employers who are fully closed on the holiday. It is next to impossible to swap the day if the entire plant is closed on Christmas and the employee wants to work. If the plant is open, it is advised to allow for the flexibility, if you can provide it.
Be sure to document the swap and be clear on the reason. Is it a religious accommodation? If you allow it, be sure you are ready to open the door to other people AND to other holidays. You may be surprised at what holidays you are asked to swap in the future.
Having policies and procedures that are easy to read and understand can help alleviate a lot of problems in the workplace. Not only do they set the stage for what is deemed inappropriate, they can also provide guidelines for what is considered acceptable, and even expected, behavior. Strategic HR receives numerous requests to review and rewrite employee handbooks on a regular basis, especially with the number of recent federal guideline changes. If you haven’t updated your handbook in the last few years, now may be a good time. For more information on how we can help you with Employee Relations and employee handbooks, please visit our Employee Relations page.