Taking Days Off
June 15, 2007
Last Revised: May 23, 2012 4:50 PM
When Vibrant Life first started there were just two staff members, Loren and Bonnie. The most common "work day" or "work week" at that time was far in excess of 8 hours per day or 40 hours per week.
We, as owners, had no obligation nor agreement with any "seniors" to work some particular number of hours. Nor did we have any Policy then about "vacation" or "days off."
Nor did we have any salary or assurance of any income. In fact, by the date of the last revision of this Company Policy, Karl Loren had had a history of some FORTY YEARS OF SELF-EMPLOYMENT -0- it had been some 40 years since Karl had a "regular job" with assurance of livable and regular income.
As the Company grew but we were still the only "seniors" within Vibrant Life, there was not one employee who did not report directly to either Loren or Bonnie.
During these early years when Loren and Bonnie were working 80+ hours per week, and were the only owners, it was not unnatural for them to take time during the week to do some personal errand and not even think about whether they had some duty to maintain some "regular" work schedule.
During those early years Vibrant Life also employed some number of part-time high-school students whose work was always "helping" Loren or Bonnie do the work. These people absolutely worked on an hourly rate and because they were part time students, their weekly hours were not always the same. They were "part time" and worked irregular hours depending on a school schedule.
It is a derogatory, but true statement to say that we operated a "Hey You!" organization.
It was often true, in those early years, that one of these part-time employees would have some school or family event and wanted to "take time off" an already casual part-time schedule for that event. It was no problem, then, to make up a rule that when an employee wanted to take "time off" we would hope and ask that he "made up the time" on some other day. This was not at all formal in those early days. That "casual non-policy" should not be now expected to transfer automatically into some sort of "formal Company Policy."
Generally we always had more work available than we were able to get from these students.
Much of the work done by these part-time students was "stuffing envelopes" with literature so they could be easily mailed out as requests came in. It was not difficult to have these students "keep busy" just doing this and it could be done almost at any odd hour of the day or week. But, we did feel that some standard number of hours should be spent on this type of work.
As Vibrant Life expanded we moved into a beginning of an organizational structure where full-time employees had "regular" jobs and we expected that person to work a "regular" schedule of 40 hours per week. We also started a formal arrangement of "paid vacation" time and understood that an employee would take days off from work to take his "vacation time." We never even contemplated that any "part time" person would get ANY vacation allowance, or be involved in bonuses.
Initially all staff were paid on a simple hourly rate, although soon we elevated some staff to management positions where the salary may have been based on an hourly rate, but we considered it a monthy salary.
There was (and is) a firm rule that managers and executives do not get paid extra for any "extra" time, and no extra pay for "overtime." On the other side of that I have never been very willing to pay some manager or executive for less than full time either. For some reason, work for 38 hours? Well, work an extra hour within a few days to get your total time up to the minimum I expect from a manager or executive -- 40 hours. i DID NOT WANT TO COUNT HOURS AND DID NOT WANT THE STAFF MEMBER TO "KEEP TRACK" OF HOURS AND ATTEMPT TO GET "WHAT HE WAS DUE." IF A PERSON HAS TO COUNT HOURS HE BELONGS ELSEWHERE!
I actually expect a manager or executive to work more than 40 hours per week. This level of committment is so common in the executive world as to not be worthy of a mention! This is well-presented HERE.
When one of these managers or executives was not able to work one day, we expected the monthly salary (whether paid weekly or otherwise) would not be affected but that the manager would "make up" the time by keeping production UP or working extra WITHOUT KEEPING TRACK OF THOSE HOURS IN EXPECTAION OF RELATING TO THE HOURS OF ABSENCE. OWNERS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY. For those part time student workers this often still meant that the production of a full supply of stuffed envelopes or boxes of products pre-packed and ready to ship were done. We also placed a great deal of importance on "doing all the week's work by Friday, end of the week -- and not to leave any undone work for Monday."
We work from 9 to 6 PM (New Company Policy, first established HERE) with an hour for lunch. "Eating on the fly" to make it a "9 to 5 PM" work day is OK only with the Manager's agreement and only when there is SOMEONE who is working until 6 PM to handle incoming Public calls. Whoever is present at work at 6 PM should send the daily Stat Report to both Karl and Clif.
The 9 to 6 PM is now the normal work day. However, if on any Monday, the condition of the stat (normal daily stat) shows "normal or above" for the previous week, then the senior manager on location may approve a 9 to 5 PM work day for THAT week, with "lunch on the fly" -- being eaten at the desk or at the building lunch room and not taking more than thirty minutes off from work.
Vacation Policy is presented HERE, and not repeated here other than this excerpt from the long-standing Company Policy on terms of employment:
Our paid vacation system is that you get "one week" (5 work days) of paid vacation" only FOR FULL TIME STAFF after completing one year on the job. After two years you get two weeks (10 work days) and after five years you get three weeks of paid vacation. There is no further increase in vacation time beyond three weeks of paid vacation. Time-off, including vacation time, must be approved in advance, but time off other than vacation time must be made up not only in the same week, but at a time that allows for useful interchange with our public, either by phone, FAX, eMail or other, it is also possible to take time off, without pay, for some approved reason. We would consider this to be rare, reserved for things like pregnancy, illnes or such. (source)
The text in the above paragraph, in red, has been revised as of the date of this Policy and this Policy has been found necessary just because of that change in the long-standing Policy. The original Policy was casual about taking time off and I have found that the casual nature of that Policy has led to unwanted situations.
Part of the reason these unwanted situations have come about was that for some years Vibrant Life had as an employee and then as Executive Director, the daughter of the founders. She was not only the ED but was the publicly named heir to inherit the business upon the death of Loren and Bonnie.
Karl Loren erred GREATLY by being reasonable in his efforts to guide his daughter into the responsibilities of being the ED and eventually becoming the owner. Karl allowed her a variety of perquisites which both he and Bonnie had been enjoying -- as owners.
She exhibited many of the qualities of an excellent employee but did not ultimately develop the "owner's attitude" that, in Karl's view, would have made the Company's future secure in her hands. This was the subject of a written analysis of the situation and a long period leading up to her announcement that she was quitting.
During the time she was exhibiting this lack of an "owner's attitude" and then quit, some of the staff who remained with the Company, in fact, became senior executives in the Company.
It appears that the casual nature of "days off" and her attitude may have influenced others to take somewhat similar positions and behavior. In fact one person who had been hired as a senior executive used the Company Credit Card to charge Christmas gifts for her family, promised to pay Vibrant Life back, was fired and still owes some thousands of dollars.
This Company Policy is now written to formalize what had been a too-loose and casual policy for "days off."
But this revision is NOT what should have needed to be written -- that attitude, found lacking, has now required this formal revision of the Company Policy.
When all the staff are working together in a cooperative effort to improve the statistics of the Company, it should be easy for any one of them to "take off" a day or some time, for some personal reason and make arrangements such that there is no reduction in any statistic, nor any impairment of service to our public.
This same Policy would also apply to regular "vacation time taken off" also. That is, while it is a "right" to take vacation time, it is a right that should be exercised within the senior Policy that you are responsible for your staff position and hat whether you are present or absent from your post.
So, a person wanting to take time off, either vacation, or other, should be able to ensure that some other person is able and willing to cover the job done by that person and that he has a formal CSW approved for that absence.
Particularly a "manager" is always responsible for training any subordinates to be willing and able to replace that manager as needed.
I found abuse of the casual and vague earlier policy when someone might take time off and feel that they could "make up the time" on a schedule of convenience to them with no expectation that some senior or owner could feel differently about it.
So, we had some staff coming to work early, building up hours of "extra time" and then "taking time off," with little or no notice and when there was no other staff member to cover the post, or only a junior person. Even after this Company Policy included this concept the same staff were doing the same thing -- Policy not read? or not agreed with?
A few instances of this can easily be overlooked, but when no person shows up at the warehouse to answer phone calls it is time to formalize this.
If a staff member has an assigned post that includes any interaction with the public, by phone, eMail or orders, that staff member should never be absent from post during our "open hours" without advance approval and must also have, himself or herself, assured that some named and trained person has promised to take over that post for that time. Failure of that junior to show up or to properly hold that temporary position is a failure of the MANAGER, not the junior who might appear responsible.
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