Should parents get preference for the holidays?

by Evil HR Lady on November 26, 2012

Do you have to work on Christmas day? While we tend to think of it as a big vacation day for everyone, many, many people are still punching the clock. Hospitals, pharmacies, gas stations, airlines, restaurants, movie theaters and call centers all have people working while the rest of us are opening presents.

But, even at these busy places, not everyone needs to show up on any particular holiday. So, who gets to have the day off?

To keep reading click here: Should parents get preference for the holidays?

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Anon November 26, 2012 at 3:05 pm

I’m lucky that my company gives us paid leave for Thanksgiving (both Thursday and Friday) and Christmas Eve to New Year. I’m in higher ed. However, the day before any holiday is always a big day for asking off. It’s usually a quiet day and shorter than normal anyway. I do my best to give all of my staff either completely off or a half day, if possible. Or, if I take Turkey Day eve, I’ll work Christmas eve. I don’t mind working alone to give my staff some extra time off and they work out fair hours amongst themselves.

You can’t compare people and life situations. I’ve got two employees with young kids, one with a new grandbaby and one whose husband works on the other side of the world for 4 months at a time. Who is going to win that competition? No one.

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Evil HR Lady November 26, 2012 at 3:15 pm

I love your line about not being able to compare people and life situations.

I also love that you care about your staff and make sure to work some of the holiday yourself. That’s awesome.

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Sasha November 26, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Thanks for the practical suggestions. I think a lot of managers want to make things fair and reasonable for people but aren’t sure exactly how to implement that.

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Evil HR Lady November 26, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Most managers want to be fair, but it’s hard when you have demanding employees. (And self entitled employees!)

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Sasha November 26, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Ha ha, yes! I’m all for letting employees work out the holiday schedule themselves, but sometimes those attitudes get in the way of that happening peacefully.

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Elizabeth West November 26, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Thank you for posting ideas on what managers can do about this. It’s really not fair for parents to be favored over employees that don’t have kids. Many managers know that, but they don’t really know what to do about it, so the parents always win.

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Evil HR Lady November 28, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Exactly. Because otherwise they are being mean! I hope they are helpful.

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Anon2 November 26, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Thanks for this! Just because I don’t have children, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to see my parents, my sister and brother-in-law, my nephew, my aunt, my husband…and that’s no less important.

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Susan November 26, 2012 at 8:23 pm

At my new job, the unwritten rule seems to be first come, first serve. If you get your request in by the first of November, you get your time off. Because most of the office leaves at 3 the day before a holiday, they offer a half day of PTO to the one admin who volunteers to cover the phones from 3-5 that day. It’s a nice system and seems to work well.

They also bribe their employees with time off for cleaning out the refrigerator each week, so I think they’ve figured out their employees!

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Evil HR Lady November 28, 2012 at 1:17 pm

I’m a fan of bribes. Especially when given to me. :>)

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Beth November 26, 2012 at 10:58 pm

Thank you! Just because my son is in college, doesn’t mean I don’t want to see him over the holidays!. I work in a hospital, so we do have 24/7 coverage. I actually am working the night shift for Xmas Eve and Xmas, so I put in my request for Thanksgiving early–I refused to work both major holidays.
We actually have enough staff that Thanksgiving, Xmas Eve, Xmas and NYE/NY could all be covered with each person only working one holiday, but our manager has small children and does not step one foot in the hospital for any holiday. This philosophy carries over to staffing decisions for holidays–those of us who are single, child-less or have older children are the first ones expected to cover holidays and those with young children are the last picked.

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A Bug! November 26, 2012 at 11:24 pm

Wow, that’s pretty terrible. If it’s possible to work it so that everybody only has to work one holiday, then you can assign the holidays based on whatever criteria you choose and at least that way nobody has to work more than one holiday even if some people have to work a holiday they’d rather not.

People without dependent children have important people in their lives, too. And even if they don’t? That doesn’t disentitle them to celebrate (or not) however the heck they choose to.

Rrrrgh.

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Evil HR Lady November 28, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Your manager needs to be replaced. Seriously. I should have added a part about the higher ups should work the holidays.

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Beth November 29, 2012 at 5:04 pm

This is the first place I have ever worked that management wouldn’t help with staffing for odd times (evenings, weekends and nights). At every other place I have worked the management would help cover any shift/holiday as needed (and really, it was expected as part of the position).

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Charles November 27, 2012 at 4:03 am

Her attitude is so WRONG! Just plain wrong.

So she would prefer to give preference to parents to not work on those need-someone-to-work holidays?

Well, how will she feel if the employer then decides to NOT hire mothers because they would have to give preference to them for NOT working on those days?

If it is wrong for an employer to use parenthood, religion, or whatever, in the hiring decision; then it should also be wrong for the employer to use such criteria in the promotion, laying off, and yes, giving preferential treatment to an employee for what days they work or do not work.

Surely, she would be the first to scream if an employer did consider her parenthood when hiring. no?

She cannot have her cake and eat it too.

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Cat November 27, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Exactly! Took the words out of my mouth.

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LTMG November 27, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Simple policy:

1. Ask for volunteers to work the holiday. If employees get holiday or overtime pay, and if there are more volunteers than people needed, then take the volunteers in order of seniority. If there are not enough volunteers, then fill the required positions in order of less to greater seniority. If there are no volunteers, then the normal work schedule stands.

2. The company will not grant last minute vacation or other debits from paid time off accounts at the last moment for people who decide to not appear for their scheduled shift. Have a strong no show policy months or years before you need it and enforce it.

3. Employees who call in sick for a scheduled holiday work must have an official doctor’s dated and time stamped note excusing them from work. The date and time on the doctor’s note must be before the employees’ scheduled work start time.

4. Invite employees seeking exceptions to the published policies to trade workings schedules with their colleagues. Supervisors and managers can never win if they try to manage these kinds of situations for their staffs.

5. The company and it’s managers need to retain the flexibility to deal humanely and fairly with truly exceptional cases. These will typically be well under 1% of the situations.

6. Supervisors and managers at all levels must set the example that they, too, are following the applicable policies. No exceptions.

7. Managers can show gratitude to those working a holiday by bringing muffins, bagels, doughnuts, or extend some similar gesture. This goes a long way to strengthen employee satisfaction.

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Evil HR Lady November 28, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Yeah, I totally should have included the food part. There should be free food on holidays.

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Another Evil HR Director November 28, 2012 at 12:55 pm

I always find it interesting that those who fall into protected categories (or, in the is case, are in a situation that might be viewed as a protected category) want to also receive special consideration simply for being in that category. If an employer cannot by law consider age, gender, marital status, etc., etc., in its employment decisions, nor should people in those categories expect to be given special treatment simply because they are. in those categories. You cannot have it both ways. Equal treatment means in all aspects, not just those that are convenient to you.

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Evil HR Lady November 28, 2012 at 1:35 pm

But that’s just so darn logical! :>)

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Jane November 30, 2012 at 4:13 am

Your link is broken.

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Rachael December 7, 2012 at 8:59 pm

I think that parents should just get over themselves. I just had a daughter in 2010 and I do not expect special treatment just becuase i have her.

Because I became a parent at 32 I spent a large chunk of my working life listening to parents whine about working on holidays. (One way that I remedied it was working for a bank…lol…Now I get all the holidays off). But, before the bank job I had to deal with being scheduled to work on holdidays ALL THE TIME.

The parents make the excuse that their CHILDREN are the ones that deserve them to be home in order to make it a fun (fill in the blank holiday). And, excuse my language, that is just crap.

I spent years being late to Christmas Eve gatherings, July fourth celebrations…New Year’s Eve…etc and it never seemed to come back around for me to have those days off. Besides creating low morale it does cause anomosity between coworkers.

When you become a working parent you have to balance both lives. It is a choice that YOU make and you have to deal with having to schedule alternate days to celebrate if you have to work. It’s what everyone else has to do.

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Evil HR Lady December 8, 2012 at 9:06 am

I solved that problem as well by moving from a grocery store to a pharma company. Not only did we get all the holidays off, for the last 5 years I worked there, they shut down between Christmas and New Years!

I totally agree with you, though. Having two classes of employees makes for bad morale.

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Mel December 23, 2012 at 11:43 am

I know I’m coming late to the party here, but I wanted to give another suggestion for scheduling holidays.

Years ago, I worked in a tiny office that had to be staffed 24/7, with one person covering each shift (day, swing and graveyard). The first boss I had at that job had a system I thought fair.

In early November, she gave each of us a slip of paper where she had listed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Each had a space next to it for us to rank, 1-5, which of these days we most wanted off. There was also a space where we could volunteer to work any of these. She used these rankings to set the schedules. If too many people wanted the same day off, with too few (or no) volunteers, she went by seniority or who’d gone the longest without having it off.

I also wanted to make a suggestion to the workers if they do haggle the schedule. If someone volunteers a holiday so you don’t have to work it, do the same for them for another holiday. For example, if your childless/childfree young co-worker volunteers Christmas to give your child the magical Christmas morning, how about doing the same for him/her for New Year’s Eve or maybe the early shift New Year’s Day?

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Evil HR Lady December 23, 2012 at 7:14 pm

I’m sorry, that is far too logical and fair. :>)

And I especially love the idea about doing a trade for holidays.

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Jazz January 10, 2013 at 8:30 pm

As the father of several young children (including an infant), I always volunteer to cover New Years eve/day as I’m likely to bed by 10 anyway. I have found volunteering to take the day the young childless folks want off helps make sure I don’t have to worry about Christmas eve/day. Of course, this only works if your coworkers are decent people :)

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