The majority of medical practice leaders responding to this week’s MGMA Stat poll do not offer personal days or floating holidays as part of the paid leave offered to employees.
Out of 1,409 respondents, 51% said they do not offer either a floating holiday or personal day to their organization’s employees. Only 19% reported offering employees a floating holiday -- a paid day off as a substitution for a holiday – and 15% said they offer a personal day to workers for reasons beyond vacation or illness. About 8% of respondents indicated they offer both a floating holiday and a personal day.
For many medical groups, the office is closed for most major federal holidays, and employees would not need a floating holiday. In those instances, employees can be advised ahead of time that they will be paid their base salary for the day.
For facilities that remain open on some federal or bank holidays, the floating holiday becomes an option if it’s not built into a set amount of paid time off (PTO) to compensate employees who work on a holiday. Other healthcare organizations that close on major holidays (such as Christmas Day and Independence Day) yet remain open on another holiday (Presidents Day, for example) may offer a floating holiday to be used elsewhere in the year.
Similarly, offering a personal day usually applies to practices that offer separate banks of vacation and sick leave. As an alternative, some practices opt for a PTO benefit plan that combines the traditional vacation and sick time with personal leave time, making for a single bucket of paid leave to manage.
An important piece to managing either personal days or a more robust PTO plan is deciding to offer either a lump sum at the start of a year or setting an accrual rate based on hours worked. A November 2016 MGMA Stat poll found that about 74% of respondents said their practice’s staff accrue PTO throughout the year, while about 16% reported they credit the PTO in a lump sum at the beginning of the year.
A 2016 MGMA Member Community discussion examined how to accommodate new employees who may not accrue those PTO benefits during an introductory 90-day period of employment. One MGMA member summed up the issue with a focus on consistency and what your benefits say about your organization: “How much do you value your employees and what kind of message do you want to send to a new employee? Are employees any less important to your organization because of the date they were hired? … [Treat] the new employee as you treat other employees and pay them for the holiday.”
Regardless of whether your organization offers a floating holiday or personal day, practice administrators can pair their paid leave benefits with a clear policy on the amount of notice required for requesting either benefit so you can plan for employee absences without an interruption of service.
More information on best practices for handling these and similar human resource management issues can be found in HR Policies & Procedures Manual for Medical Practices, 5th Edition, by Courtney Price, PhD, president, Creative Management Unlimited Inc., Denver.
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