Leave management is one of the key responsibilities of HR. For one thing, knowing when and for how long employees will be on leave is essential for project planning. And for another, keeping track of how many days off employees have taken is important to ensure that the business remains compliant with labor laws.
Coordinating leaves of absence for an organization’s entire workforce is already a difficult task when employees work from the company offices, but even more so when they work remotely. After all, there is no empty office space indicating the employee’s absence, nor are there any water cooler chats to let the rest of the team know about any upcoming absences.
So, what does leave management for remote teams look like? And what can businesses do to successfully manage PTO for their remote employees?
Leave management comprises all the different tasks, procedures, processes and policies that are linked to approving, coordinating and managing leave requests that are put forward by employees. It also involves ensuring compliance with the different laws that govern employee leave entitlements.
Managing employee leave requests can be a complex and difficult process, especially since there are many different types of leave employees might be entitled to under the laws of their home country. The most common leave types include:
But there are many other types of leave HR managers should be aware of when handling leave requests from members of a globally distributed team.
Remote work not only requires companies to adjust their workflows and make use of new technologies to enable virtual communication and collaboration. Working with a remote team also means having to change how employees, their HR needs and everything in between is managed. This also includes leave management.
Leave management for remote teams is different to managing leaves for employees whose regular place of work is the company office. The main differences are:
No empty office space: Normally, if employees are absent from work, colleagues can tell because their work desk or office is empty. In a remote set-up, this is not possible.
No casual mention of scheduled leave during coffee breaks: Scheduled leave or holiday plans are one of the most common topics for short coffee breaks among colleagues. Since this kind of informal exchange is missing in a remote-first organization, team members lose an important source of information to find out when their colleagues will be out of office.
Different countries, different leave requirements: Minimum leave requirements vary from one country to the next. While employees in some countries must receive no less than 30 days of paid annual leave, others are only entitled to a bare minimum of 5 days. Making sure employees receive at least the minimum number of paid days off they are entitled to by law is a big part of ensuring global employment compliance.
Need to ensure fairness: Managing employee leave in remote teams not only involves coordinating employee leave requests and making sure that statutory leave requirements are met. It also brings additional work for the HR team who needs to work out a PTO policy that works towards improving fairness among employees based in countries with very different leave requirements.
The additional challenges that come with leave management for remote teams require HR managers and employers to take additional precautions and put in extra effort to make sure employee leave requests are approved and managed as required by law. Here are some tips on how to manage leaves in remote teams.
Using leave management software: Communication and collaboration in remote teams takes place almost 100% remotely, and leave management is no exception to that. To make it work, businesses should consider using a special software for managing employee leave.
Creating an OOO guideline for employees: It’s impossible to know if a colleague is on leave when working from home. To avoid questions being left unanswered and coworkers waiting for days to get a reply from a teammate who is out of office, organizations should provide some guidelines to their remote employees on what they need to do when they are absent from work. This mainly includes measures like asking employees to update their Slack status and put in place an automatic email reply stating that they’re on holidays and won’t be back for another X days.
Setting up a detailed leave policy: A company’s leave policy is the central piece of information that outlines all the procedures and requirements regarding leave requests, leave approval, and other aspects of leave management. At the very least, the policy should explain how far in advance leave must be requested, under what circumstances leave requests might be rejected (e. g. if the requested leave period falls into the middle of an important project), and what other things employees need to consider before taking time off. Leave policies for remote teams should go one step further and also indicate whether the business’s leave strategy follows the idea of a universal leave entitlement (i. e. same number of paid days off for all employees) or whether employees’ leave entitlement is purely based on local laws (i. e. employees receive just the number of days that are prescribed by law or commonly offered in their home country).
Collecting information on statutory leave requirements in a central database: Almost all countries have laws that rule how many paid days off employers must grant their employees. Failing to give employees enough leave can lead to serious compliance issues. Since leave requirements differ between countries, organizations with a globally distributed team should collect all the necessary information in a centralized database and update it whenever necessary.
Creating a company-wide PTO calendar: Even with employees updating their status on Slack and other communication tools, it’s hard to keep track of who is on leave, when and for how long. Especially when planning important projects, it’s crucial to know when team members won’t be available. A central calendar that shows the scheduled absences of all the business’s employees can serve as a universal point of reference.
Considering different public holidays: Public holidays can be an important part of an employee’s overall leave entitlement. Since their number and dates vary from one country to the next, businesses should think about how to manage public holidays when working out a leave management strategy for their remote teams.
The Lano Academy is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Lano Software GmbH disclaims any liability for any actions you take or refrain from taking based on the content contained in this article.
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