Ask HR: When is it OK to take a vacation?

SHRM President and CEO, Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, answers questions about human resources as part of a series for USA today.

Do you have an HR or professional question that you would like answered? Submit it here.

My business has been woefully understaffed for months now with no end in sight. We’ve been so busy that I felt guilty taking days off. Although I probably need to, I haven’t taken a vacation yet this year and I don’t have any plans for the rest of the year. My manager didn’t take any either. Should I take a vacation at some point in the year? Kirsten

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr.: The short and long answer is yes! Whether it’s a long weekend, vacation, vacation or sabbatical, we all need time off from work. Understandably, since the start of the pandemic, the world of work has seemingly been turned upside down, leading many workers to take on greater responsibilities. And in a tight labor market, workers are even more dispersed. Long hours and limited time off have contributed to increased fatigue, stress and burnout.

If your manager is burning the candle at both ends, you might feel compelled to do the same. However, continuing to work without some kind of respite will eventually have diminishing returns. Taking care of yourself is just as important as your commitment to the organization. I would say that self-care actually improves your commitment to your work.

The truth is that we are fully human with inherent limitations. Taking time off helps you on a personal level and also helps you look your best when you’re working. In fact, studies show that employees are more productive and happier when they’re away. As the CEO of a global organization, even I need time off from work to be at my best.

While I can’t speak to the exact situation you’re facing, it’s important to take time off from work to rest, relax, and recharge, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about scheduling time for yourself. -same. If business operations can’t afford you a long vacation right now, ask about the possibility of taking a long weekend or a day or two off here or there. Having even a few days of vacation scheduled can give you something to look forward to and help you return to work relaxed and invigorated.

I hope you will consider taking some time off soon. You deserve it!

My daughter works for an oxygen delivery company in St. Louis. She faces a weekly surcharge for not being vaccinated against COVID-19. She has medical issues that warrant not getting vaccinated. Is it legal? Should she get a lawyer? Tony

Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. : I understand your concerns and I appreciate your taking care of your daughter. Navigating the policy changes brought about by the pandemic can certainly be frustrating. Although the rules and guidelines are meant to cover the vast majority of cases, unique situations like your daughter’s may warrant further consideration. Although this practice is legal, there may be options available to meet its needs.

Employers can usually add supplements to their employees’ health insurance premiums if they are not vaccinated. Similarly, some employers add surcharges to insurance premiums for smokers in their workforce. You may have seen this covered in the news or in your workplace. They do this to encourage employees to get vaccinated or quit smoking, to protect worker well-being, and to help reduce health care costs for their business.

While employers can implement surcharges, they are also responsible for ensuring that surcharges comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA protects employees from discrimination based on disability. Employers should make exceptions for employees who cannot get vaccinated due to a medical condition or disability.

As a first step, I suggest your daughter talk to her human resources team about her concerns. Since her medical condition prevents her from receiving a vaccination, she may be protected under the ADA. Many employers will have a formal process in place for disability, medical or religious accommodations. Also, if she has not already done so, she can start the accommodation request process and prepare any necessary documentation about her condition.

I hope your daughter can find a suitable solution to meet her needs. Be well!


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