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What should your employee holiday policy look like?

When forming a business, it is important to be forward-thinking. It can be difficult to embrace this mindset at times, given that setting up a business often requires you to be very focused on the present moment. But as you sift through all the legal paperwork, the practical purchases and the innovations that will allow you to open your business’s doors, it remains imperative that you think beyond opening day when considering numerous business-related concerns.

For example, it is important for you to think beyond immediate hiring needs to the ways in which your employees will be treated for the remainder of their employment. One of the considerations you will need to ponder is leave. When employees become ill, injured, grieve the loss of close loved ones, welcome new additions to the family, request vacation and seek holiday time, you will need to have complete leave policies in place so that you can keep your business running and treat employees in fair and consistent ways.

One of the challenges in drafting a leave policy involves the consideration of leave for religious observances. The law generally requires employers to provide their workers with reasonable accommodations for religious observances or beliefs. The major exception to this rule is that employers may avoid such accommodations if they would result in undue hardship to the employer’s business.

In addition, the law generally forbids employment discrimination based on religious beliefs, therefore it is important to treat workers of all faiths in consistent ways. When crafting a leave policy related to religious observances, it may benefit you to consult with an attorney if you have any questions about the undue hardship standard or about consistent treatment of religious leave with regards to workers of various faiths.

Source: Findlaw Free Enterprise, “Giving Employees Time Off Work for Religious Reasons,” Christopher Coble, June 18, 2015

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