Did you know that Halloween rivals only Christmas in its popularity? What used to be a holiday for kids has grown into a day (or weekend) that is celebrated with gusto among the adult set. As a small business owner, you absolutely want to be aware of this fact. You may soon be finding yourself inundated with time off requests. 

Whether your employees want the evening off to take their kids trick-or-treating, or your workers will be going to parties of their own and need the next day to recuperate, handling multiple time off requests can get tricky. No matter the reason your employees want to take leave, you’ve got to be firm and fair. The job still has to get done!  

Some people are going to be irritated or frustrated, maybe even downright angry, when you tell them they can’t have the day off. By establishing policies and procedures ahead of time, you can save yourself a bit of hassle. Here are some tips and considerations for handling time off requests during the holidays and any other time of year. 

  1. Seniority

Seniority is a traditional, tried-and-true way of handling multiple requests for the same day of freedom. The person with the most time in gets dibs on the preferred day off. If you use seniority as a way to establish a pecking order for days off, remember that you may have to come up with different lists for different levels of employees. For example, if you have a management team, you will probably want to create a separate seniority list for supervisors and employees. This way, you won’t have shortages across multiple levels. 


  1. First To Ask – First to Get Approved

 Another way you can determine who gets the day off is to have your employees time-stamp their time off requests. This is easily done through email. Have your employees email their request to you. Better yet, make it a policy that any day-off requests, outside of emergency or unexpected situations, be placed at least two weeks in advance.  

While this is certainly a fair method of determining who will work and who won’t, it may not be all you need. For example, if you know that you can get by with a handful of employees, you still need someone to supervise. In another case, you may be able to do without your HR staff for a day, but absolutely need your IT team. Let your employees know exactly how many people are required for minimum staffing in each department. 


  1. Needs

This is pretty easy to determine and was mentioned above. What does your business need in order to operate efficiently and appropriately? This may be a minimum staffing level across the board. It could be minimum staffing in specific departments. It could be by shift. You should know by now what it will take to keep the wheels turning. You can always simply choose to utilize your discretion when it comes to approving days off.  


  1. Close Early, Open Late

Depending on the type of business you run, you may be able to accommodate every employee by adjusting your hours for the holiday. Perhaps you can close the doors a few hours early or open a couple of hours late the morning after. Maybe you can do both. Losing a few hours of productivity may make more sense for your company than having several employees off for an entire shift. Give it some thought. 


  1. Telecommute

Let’s be real: Some of your employees want November 1 off simply because they aren’t going to be able to function in the bright light off the office. A few adult beverages may have even your best employees struggling to get out of their PJs and looking presentable. If there is work they can do from home, why not offer that alternative? Your employee won’t have to take “time off,” they can still get their jobs done, and your business can still enjoy a day of profitability. 


  1. Prior Requests

 No matter what system you have in place, the same employee shouldn’t get the same holiday off over and over (unless you are only utilizing seniority or have a union contract in place) in spite of other employees wanting that holiday. Take a look at historical requests for each employee. If the same person always get Halloween off and someone else is asking for it, speak with that employee and try to work something out. When you discover that someone is unfairly hogging the holidays, it may be time to put a holiday rotation in place. 


  1. Union Contracts

It’s unlikely that you are dealing with a union if you are a small business owner, but you could be. If you are, whatever is written into the union contract is what you need to abide by. While this may be unfair to some of your newer employees, it does make life easier for you. The decision is already made.  

Your employees work hard and deserve some time to enjoy themselves, even when those times clash with work hours now and again. Giving employees time off, however, doesn’t mean that your company has to experience a shut down. Use the tips above to give your employees what they have earned without drastically affecting your bottom line — or company morale. 

When you make your decision for how time off requests for Halloween and other holidays will be handled, make sure you let your team know in an easy, effective way. Company.com can help. Our software suite includes a small business team collaboration tool, so you can make sure everyone is always in the know. Contact us today to learn how we can help your small business thrive, or to start a free trial of our premium package.