Q. “For years, we’ve granted two employees—a married couple—extra unpaid leave for vacations. We recently notified employees that additional time off would no longer be given. But the owner sees no problem making an exception for this couple, even while other employees have to live with the new rule. How should I handle this?”—J.L., Wisconsin
Answers from the readers of The HR Specialist Forum:
Explain risks in boss’s language. “I can relate; something similar happened with me. The concerns are multiple: Unfair practices can lead to discrimination charges, lower morale and resentment toward the owner and the employee who is allowed to take extra time off. I suggest you share your concerns from a monetary/business/reputation perspective. If nothing else, the owner will have a better understanding of the adverse consequences, and you will have advocated on behalf of the company, the law and the employees without compromising your relationship with the owner and maintaining the integrity of the HR profession. What worked for me is when I began sharing the liability risks about the owner’s overriding decisions.” — J.W.G.
Don’t fight the power. “As annoying as it can be when trying to keep employee grumbling about ‘unfairness’ to a minimum, the owner ultimately has the veto power over things and can make as many exceptions as he wants. Eventually, he may tire of everyone coming to him for exceptions and then he’ll adhere to the policy in the future.” — A. Smith
Unfair can equal illegal. “Advise the employer, as calmly as possible, that employment lawsuits have increased dramatically. And as employers downsize and employees must take on the responsibilities of three co-workers, a boss playing favorites can turn the most loyal of employees completely hostile … especially when they have to pick up the slack for absentee employees. The best rule: What is good for one is good for all.” — M.O.G.
Your duty to speak up. “Seems like a no-brainer: The owner should be warned that it is dangerous to single out one couple for special treatment. And as a good subordinate, you need to tell him that.” — David
Unpaid will be unpopular. “I wouldn’t be too concerned about it. The owner is the boss and can grant leave as he wishes. Also, they are getting unpaid leave, so I wouldn’t be worried about an influx of such requests. People still have bills to pay.” — H.R.
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