Our Blog

Articles and resources covering leave management, employee time and attendance, absence management and more.

Banner

Handling Unpaid Leave Requests

There are times when an employee is going to want more time off than they have available to them through your company’s regular paid leave policies. Maybe the employee has applied for and won some kind of fellowship. Maybe they need to take some extra time to spend with family during a difficult time. Or maybe they want to embark on some kind of grand travel day. These kinds of situations can prompt an employee to file an unpaid leave request. Whether or not your company has an official policy covering this type of time off, handling unpaid leave requests can be tricky. This article provides some guidance on how to do it.

 

Pay Attention to How Employees Make Unpaid Leave Requests

Because most companies don’t have a specific policy around handling unpaid leave requests, a smart employee will go about this process delicately since they’re attempting to navigate largely unchartered waters. Managers and HR staff should keep an open mind to unpaid leave requests rather than just immediately rejecting them out of hand because they fall outside the company’s written benefits and leave policies. But savvy employees do negotiate unpaid leave. The ones who are successful approach it in thoughtful and creative ways.

 

The employee who asks for a substantial unpaid leave should be one who knows they bring a lot of value to the company and have a sense that you want to keep them on board. But this should also come through with a healthy dose of humility, not arrogance or cockiness. The desire to retain the employee also has to be balanced out with your desire to keep them close and engaged. If the employee is smart, they will have thought through any long-term goals they have with the company and address how those will be affected and maintained in light of an extended leave of absence. In other words, you want to see that they employee has thought through all the implications of this kind of leave and doesn’t approach it with a kind of cavalier attitude.

 

Is There Purpose to the Time Off Request?

Smart employees making unpaid leave requests will provide details on what it is they hope to accomplish during their time away and how it will benefit their work at your company. It might be developing a new skillset or making sure they don’t approach burnout. If they take the time to frame their request as something developmentally beneficial that will bring added value to the job, those efforts should be viewed favorably.

 

It also helps if they’ve put some effort into finding out the historical precedents of unpaid leave requests in your company, or even examples that they’ve learned of at other companies in your industry. In short, if an employee can present a compelling case for the purpose the time off, it should make a difference in how you respond. This would also include how well they’ve thought through potential objections, such as how their essential duties will be covered during an extended absence. If the employee has a solid plan for minimizing the impact of an absence (such as timing it to occur during a typically slow time for the business), that can go a long way towards easing understandable concerns your company may have.

 

Also assess the risks involved in your response. If this is a star performer you don’t want to lose, finding a way to work it out and grant the request could make a big difference to the employee’s long-term loyalty and tenure at the company. If denying the request might result in the employee quitting, are you willing to take on the cost of finding and hiring a replacement? Also, consider how willing the employee is to adjust their idea in order to make it happen, such as flexibility in timing of the leave, maybe doing it in several chunks if possible rather than all at once, and so forth. Be willing to work with the employee to figure it out in a way that is mutually acceptable to everyone involved.

 

As you can see, handling unpaid leave requests is a surprisingly complex negotiation process with many factors to consider. Both sides need to keep and open mind, be flexible, and plan carefully in order to find a mutually acceptable response that can provide benefits to both the employee and the company.

 

Whether it’s unpaid leave requests or regular paid time off, keeping accurate records of leave time is essential for your company to gain actionable insights into managing its workforce more effectively. If it’s time to ditch the paper forms and spreadsheets for a software solution that automates and streamlines many leave management tasks, take a look at what CaptureLeave offers your company. As a web-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, its robust features and ease of use are available to you 24/7/365 with nothing to download, install or maintain. Check it out for yourself with a 60-day free trial, after which you’ll love its affordable monthly pricing. Staying up-to-date on topics and developments related to leave management, employee time and attendance, absence management and more is easy when you bookmark the CaptureLeave Blog page and visit every week for the latest article and news you can use!

Tagged with: ,

Better Leave Management Brings 3 Big Benefits

A surprising number of companies aren’t doing one of the simplest things they could do to boost productivity and their bottom line: Better leave management. I think more companies would take this step if they truly understood what they’re missing out on. This article explains the 3 big benefits companies can reap with better leave management provided by the right software or app.

Read more ›

Tagged with: , ,

Is the Three Day Work Week Really a Thing?

Back in December 2018 I wrote an article here to answer the question, Is the Four-Day Work Week Finally Catching On? Soon after publishing the article, a number of people contacted me to say I should also write about the three-day work week. My initial reaction, I have to admit, was one of sheer incredulity. How can that even be possible? As it turns out, it is possible and people are doing it – but don’t worry, it’s more an individual thing than an employer thing. In other words, your company does not have to worry about offering a three day work week option any time soon, if ever. Read more ›

Tagged with: ,

Compassionate Leave: Expanding Bereavement Leave

Companies who want to do right by their employees have been revisiting their bereavement leave policies. In some cases, companies are expanding the traditional bereavement leave policy to include more paid time off. In other cases, companies are adding an additional category of leave called compassionate leave because life can serve up difficult situations that don’t include the death of a loved one.

 

Facebook Offers Expanded Bereavement Leave

Two years after Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s husband passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack, the company revisited its bereavement policy. It expanded bereavement leave to 20 days of paid time off to mourn the death of an immediate family member, and 10 days of paid time off due to the death of an extended family member. This represented a doubling of their paid time off benefit for bereavement purposes. Facebook also adjusted illness-related time off to care for or be with sick family members. It now grants three days of paid time off to deal with a short-term illness, such as an immediate family member having the flu, and six weeks of paid time off within a rolling 12-month timeframe to be with a family member suffering from a more serious illness.

 

Other big companies such as Mastercard soon followed suit with similar expansions to their bereavement leave policies. It should be noted that there are no labor laws that require employers to offer bereavement leave of any kind, and only 60% of all workers and 71% of full-time workers have access to a bereavement leave benefit. When they do, it is on average only three days for the death of an immediate family member and only one day for an extended family member. When you think about the impact that grief can have on productivity in the workplace, these standard policies seem woefully inadequate.

 

Compassionate Leave for Life’s Major Curve Balls

There are also all kinds of difficult or traumatic events that can occur in life that have nothing to do with death of a loved one, which has prompted some companies to institute a new type of leave category called compassionate leave or family responsibility leave. In some cases, bereavement leave is included under this new umbrella category, but it’s meant to cover more than just death or serious illness. The types of emergency events that might qualify for compassionate leave are hugely variable, but in general would include an employee’s dependent suffering a traumatic event such as being the victim of a crime, having a nervous breakdown, a sudden change in caregiving of a dependent, and so on. Even though there may be no physical injury per se, the traumatic nature of the event can mean the dependent needs extra care and comfort or caregiver coverage.

 

There is no clear way to decide what sorts of emergencies might qualify for compassionate leave. Each company has to figure this out on their own, often on a case-by-case basis if it offers the benefit. Because of this variability, it’s also difficult to come up with a set amount of time off. For the sake of planning, a nominal amount of paid time off might be explicitly included in a policy, such as two or three days, with more time allowable if circumstances warrant it, the additional time off might be unpaid.

 

The nature of traumatic emergencies by definition means your company won’t have time to plan for a sudden unexpected absence. This highlights the importance of advanced contingency planning for how unexpected absences can be covered, whether that is accomplished through cross-training initiatives so multiple people know how to cover essential duties of other employees or having a good pool of on-call temporary workers who can step in when needed.

 

If your company is considering changes to its bereavement policies or instituting a new type of leave such as compassionate leave that covers emergencies other than bereavement, you’ll find leave management to be much easier if you adopt an easy-to-use robust software solution such as CaptureLeave. Because it is a web-based solution, you never have to worry about installing any software, maintaining it or updating it – we handle all of that behind the scenes. CaptureLeave can be accessed from your preferred devices that have an Internet connecting and web browser. Find out what CaptureLeave can do for you with a free 60-day trial after which you can enjoy affordable pricing as a monthly no-contract subscription fee based on the number of users at your company.

Tagged with:

Top 10 Reasons Managing Leave Time Online Makes Sense

You might be surprised to find out how many companies are still managing leave time using a combination of paper forms and Excel spreadsheets – unless, of course, you’re one of them! Now is the time to let go of the old ways and bring your leave management efforts into the 21st century. Managing leave time online just might be the smartest business decision you make this year, and there are 10 great reasons why:

 

  1. Save Precious Time and Money by Managing Leave Time Online

If you’re currently managing leave time manually with paper forms, spreadsheets, calendars and endless emails, then you’re probably painfully aware of how much of your time is being wasted that could be better spent elsewhere. Instead of manually looking up how much leave an employee is allowed and then calculating where they’re at, this can all be automated when you use a robust web-based leave management system like CaptureLeave. You can set up each unique leave accrual for each employee so you always instantly know where they’re at in terms of leave time available and leave time used. Employees can request their leave time online using the system, totally eliminating the need to fill out paper forms. Automating as much of the leave management process as possible will make your life so much easier!

CaptureLeave makes managing leave time online easy.

  1. Managing Leave Time Online Means Fewer Headaches and Hassles

The instant visibility you get into the big picture of your company by managing leave time online with a solution like CaptureLeave will result in many fewer headaches and hassles. There will never be any question about whose leave request came in first because it’s all tracked within the system. You’ll easily be able to see where there are potential conflicts in order to resolve them earlier and faster. Each employee user will also always know where they’re at in terms of leave time accrued, which will prevent them from requesting time off they don’t have just to have the request rejected. And there will be fewer conflicts to begin with because employee users will also be able to see what percentage of their colleagues are already going to be off on any given day, which will inform their own leave requests.

With CaptureLeave it is easy to view employee absence at a glance.

  1. Define Types of Leave that Match Your Company

The flexibility of the CaptureLeave solution means you get to define the types of leave you offer at your company. You can also make different groupings of employees that have their own unique leave management needs and requirements. We built CaptureLeave in a way that allows as much customization as possible to match up to what your company needs. This flexibility in customization is a big part of why managing leave time online with CaptureLeave will give your company maximum benefits at minimal cost.

 

  1. Accessibility Whenever Needed

Because CaptureLeave is a Software-as-a-Service (Saas) web-based solution, it can be accessed 24/7/365 on any device with an Internet connection and web browser. When you’re tied down with paper forms and spreadsheets, it’s impossible to manage leave time on-the-go. When you make the smart choice of managing leave time online, it doesn’t matter where you are or what time of day it is, you can easily do what needs to be done.

 

  1. All the Reports You’ll Ever Want

With CaptureLeave, your dashboard gives easy access to your company’s leave calendar, custom leave requests, pending leave requests, and an easy-to-read chart of your leave utilization. Generate reports for individuals, groups of employees or the whole company with just a few clicks. And if you really need to download these reports as beautiful Excel spreadsheets, you can even do that.

 

  1. Multiple Ways to View Your Data

All your data in CaptureLeave can be viewed in real-time at whatever level you need from individual to company-wide. You also have the flexibility to quickly switch the timeframe of your data view from daily to weekly to monthly or even annually when needed. The format in which you view data can also be switched from a graph view to a chart view – whatever is best for you or for the reports you need to generate.

 

  1. Easy Calendar Integrations

Want to see your approved time off appear on your personal calendar? CaptureLeave integrates with Google, Outlook and iCal with the click of a button.

 

  1. Multiple User Levels Allow for Delegation

CaptureLeave lets you assign three different user levels that include Administrators, Managers and Employees. Having that Manager category is key because you can delegate responsibility to them for helping manage leave time for the employees they manage. And doesn’t lightening your load sound like a good thing?

 

  1. Document Management within the System

Your company’s leave policies are the source of everything you do when managing leave time online, which is why CaptureLeave includes a document management component that allows you to easily create, edit and distribute updated company policies as needed to everyone or just to selected groups of people. The document library can include however many categories of documents you need, and the documents can be in a variety of formats, including Word, videos, audio, HTML, pdf and more. You also control who can access which documents. CaptureLeave also logs each and every change to documents so you’ll always know who has done what.

 

  1. Try Before You Buy

We know we’ve created a robust, easy-to-use system for managing leave time online with our CaptureLeave solution – but you don’t have to just take our word for it. We off an unprecedented 60-day free trial so you can see for yourself how CaptureLeave will make leave management much easier for you and your whole company.

 

At the end of the free trial, you’ll then appreciate our affordable pricing as a monthly subscription fee based on the number of users, starting at just $25/month for 5-15 users.

Tagged with:

Top 5 Headaches of Managing Time Off

Human resources professionals have a lot on their plate no matter what the industry or field of their company. Hiring, firing, compliance, payroll, benefits administration, maintain employee records, crafting and disseminating human resources policies throughout the company, handling employee complaints and more. The list of responsibilities can feel endless. And one of the most frustrating items on that ever-expanding to-do list is managing employee leave time. Here are the top five headaches of managing time off that can leave human resources professionals feeling frustrated and overwhelmed – and what you can do about them:

Lacking Clear Policies is One of the Worst Headaches of Managing Time Off

How clear are the policies at your company regarding how employees go about taking time off? If there are not clear procedures in place, or if employees don’t know what those procedures are, then this will undoubtedly continue to be one of your headaches regarding managing time off at your company. This may seem like an obvious no-brainer, but when’s the last time you really looked at your company’s time-off policies? If you are continually finding time-off requests to be a problem, then chances are good that you need to revisit your policies, or do a better job at making sure employees know what they are.

Lacking a Strategy for Managing Conflicts

There will inevitably be times when you cannot honor multiple requests for time off within the same team or department. How you handle these situations when they occur is of vital importance. If you don’t handle them just right, you’ll have some very unhappy employees on your hands. What you need is a real strategy. Maybe it’s based on seniority or maybe you’ll use a first-come-first-served approach. Whatever strategy you do use, it is incumbent upon you to make sure the employees understand how such conflicts will be handled, and to clearly explain your decision in order to close the communication loop and not leave people feeling neglected, resentful, or wondering if you were playing favorites. Get it right!

Lacking a Plan for Unplanned Absences

A sense of panic can set in when a key employee or team member is unexpectedly out sick or due to some other emergency. This can be especially nerve-wracking if another key person is already out on vacation when the unplanned absence occurs. This can be one of the most stress-inducing headaches of managing time off you’ll ever experience because when it happens, there may not be much of anything you can do about it. The only way to effectively address this problem is with a high level of big-picture planning. Do you have a temp agency you work with that can quickly fill the gap? Have employees been cross-trained in such a way that there is someone who can step in when needed? Creating and implementing a formal cross-training program is a major undertaking, but one that will serve your company well for years to come when this situation arises.

Lacking the Right Company Culture

Every company has employees who seem to keep accruing unused vacation days, and those can become a surprisingly large financial liability when an employee leaves and the company has to pay them for unused time off. But beyond the financial liability unused time off, there is also the toll it takes on the productivity of your employees due to stress and burnout. For more information on this problem, see my previous article, Vacation Time’s True Cost to Your Company. Creating a workplace culture that encourages employees to take the time off they’ve earned is important, and it starts by having company leaders and managers model it themselves for the sake of everyone’s sanity.

Lacking a Good Time Off Tracking Tool

If your methods for managing time off include paper forms or electronic spreadsheets, then it’s high time for you to enter the digital age of the 21st century and get the right time off tracking tool that will lessen all your headaches regarding managing time off. This falls into the category of working smarter, not harder. Paper forms and spreadsheets are sucking up way more time than you or your company can afford. And there’s no reason to put up with that for even one more day when there are plenty of solutions out there that are easy to adopt and use for surprisingly little money. You owe it to yourself and your company to make this happen.

If you’re ready to start reducing and eliminating these top five headaches managing time off at your company, then we encourage you to take a closer look at CaptureLeave. This easy-to-use software-as-a-service (SaaS) application is available anytime on any device with an Internet connection and web browser. Discover just how easy it can be to manage the leave time of all your employees with a free 60-day trial. If you like what you see, then you’ll also be pleased with CaptureLeave’s affordable monthly pricing based on the number of users. Leave the headaches behind and start enjoying stress-free time off management today!