Do you have an equitable personal leave policy?

Smith has been under the weather and requests a 3-mo personal leave without pay. Klein feels burned out and says he needs a leave to recharge his batteries. Jones wants a 6-mo leave to stay home with her problematical teen-age daughter.
By Raymond Dreyfack April 1, 1998

Smith has been under the weather and requests a 3-mo personal leave without pay.

Klein feels burned out and says he needs a leave to recharge his batteries.

Jones wants a 6-mo leave to stay home with her problematical teen-age daughter.

Who gets the nod? Who gets the “No”? And what determines the response?

Deciding to accept or reject personal leave requests can be a ticklish matter. Employee morale is involved. So are the press of the workload, the responsibility level of the applicant, and the actual quality of performance itself.

Experience proves that where employee leave policy is stated in a manual or other document, it makes sense to do so in general terms. Typical recommended statements include such phrases as “for good cause,” and “reasonable requests,” leaving it up to management to evaluate the pros and cons for okay or denial. Finally, decision consistency is critical if discrimination charges are to be avoided.

In one case, Instrument Repairman Bill Oxham asked for a 3-mo leave to have a nose operation he described as “long overdue to relieve serious nasal congestion.” Maintenance Foreman Jeff Egan was distressed by the timing. He showed Oxham a copy of the current work schedule.

“Do you know how far behind we are? I’m sorry, Bill, but I have to deny the request. A leave at this time is impossible.”

Question: In Egan’s place, would you have granted the leave?

Delaney’s decision: “Give Oxham the leave,” Plant Engineer Sam Delaney ruled. “For one thing, health consideration is priority number one, preempting work requirements and anything else. For another, there is the moral factor to consider, plus the importance of holding on to good employees. Finally, there’s the reality of life that no one benefits from having a health-impaired person on the job. As experience indicates, health-impaired usually means performance-impaired as well.”