Forcing employees to take time off

By Guest Contributor
August 6, 2011

– Cynthia Hsu is a contributor to FindLaw’s Free Enterprise blog. FindLaw is a Thomson Reuters publication. –

Employee vacation policies can vary depending on your business. Some employers choose to have no vacation time during a year, while other employers are now instituting forced vacations for employees.

At the Motley Fool, a 250-employee financial services company located in Virginia, all employees are entered into a monthly drawing where one lucky (or unlucky, depending your perspective) employee “wins” a forced two-week vacation, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The reason for this slightly strange and unconventional vacation policy is likely the logic that forcing employees to take breaks could be good for business in the long run.

After all, employees that don’t take any breaks or are simply workaholics run the risk of running dangerously low on energy. Having employees take a few weeks off to get some much-needed rest might actually mean higher productivity and a happier work environment for all.

It’s probably true that to some extent, a forced vacation policy is something that is out of consideration when thinking about a small business’ budget and how much paid time off employers can really afford. Vacation policies aren’t even required by law in the U.S., as employers are generally not required to give paid vacations or sick pay.

But, maybe giving employees some extra perks like vacations, sick pay, or even some fun work time activities can build company loyalty, morale, and ultimately improve the quality of life in the office. Vacation policies can even attract higher-quality talent who might like the extra benefits of working in a congenial, less-stressful work environment.

Should small businesses be imposing forced vacations on your employees? While legally-speaking, employee vacation policies don’t even need to exist, encouraging workers to at least take a few days off in order to recharge their batteries might be useful.

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