How to fight a bad vacation policy

Dear Evil HR Lady,
Our firm just implemented a new policy stating that vacation days must now be taken in increments of one week. The managing partner’s (who seems to be the only one that feels this way) reasoning is that taking a day here or a day there is disruptive to the lawyers work. So if I need one day off to go to a family function, or whatever, I must take the entire week. This has all of the secretaries very disgruntled!

We are a small firm of 6 lawyers, 4 secretaries, one bookkeeper/receptionist, one law clerk and one runner/file clerk.

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3 thoughts on “How to fight a bad vacation policy

  1. I find it amusing that most of the bad vacation policies mentioned on your site deal with requiring employees to take off a whole week instead of a day here or there. Like you, I have no idea why anyone thinks a day here or there is less disruptive than the 5 days. In fact I worked at a university a while back where the staff employees (not faculty) were actively discouraged from taking full weeks off, especially my department. We also had black out times across the university, like January and August (right before semesters started), where employees couldn’t take time off. However in my department, our black out time was nearly the whole year and the only months we were allowed to take off were July and October (so 2 months out of 12), and to add insult, only 2 people out of our team of 7 could be off at a time, and we weren’t allowed to take full weeks. My director also discouraged taking time off during October because that was fall semester, so the 7 of us had to bargain with each other for time off during July. It was miserable. But this was also coming from a director who told us she expected us to work unpaid/uncompensated overtime and come in when we were sick. I left that place shortly after than speech and never looked back.

    1. While I understand your concern for the organization, and think it’s perfectly reasonable to say, ‘No, you can’t take today off to go fishing, ’cause 3 others are off as well,’ I do think this mandatory-week-at-a-time can hurt people. For example, next week my son is going with his wife to an important doctor’s appointment. He has to use a week of his vacation to get that one day off. This is because it was too hard for the person who keeps track of vacation to log all those onesy-twosy days, so she got the boss to make it a mandatory week if you needed a day off. So if someone isn’t sick or has no personal days left, you just impacted everybody anyway, and the employee’s real vacation may get submarined as well because of poor policy. Humans are a pain.

  2. I expect that the common solution to this sort of issue would be for employees to just call in sick when they need a day off to deal with personal issues. It certainly easier to do that than to march into the managing partner’s office and ask that he change the policy.

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