Issue: To assist in planning, organizations often post employee vacation schedules, especially during summer.
Risk: Some employees may protest, saying it's an invasion of privacy that makes their house more vulnerable to robbery.
Action: Choose a middle-ground solution: Post schedules online or in employee-only areas.
With summer-vacation season approaching, many employers will track employees' comings and goings using schedules posted on a bulletin board or online.
Example: Carrie, an HR professional for a Michigan firm, manages a vacation calendar on the company's intranet and sends a daily "Whereabouts" e-mail that lists who is out of the office. "It keeps everyone updated and informed. I don't know what we'd do without it," she says.
But not everyone thinks so highly of publicly posted vacation schedules.
"I wouldn't make it public knowledge," writes Kathy, an HR professional, in a recent issue of The HR Specialist Forum (www.hrspecialist.net). "People get robbed when they're on vacation, and if that info is posted for all the world to see, you may have legal problems."
Advice: Solve this potential problem with a middle-ground solution. Don't abandon your in-house vacation schedule; it's a valuable planning tool and isn't likely to spark legitimate legal claims.
"I can't see an employee successfully alleging an invasion of privacy claim based on the disclosure of a vacation schedule, so this really isn't a straight-up legal issue," says Jonathan Landesman, an employment law attorney at Cohen, Seglias, Pallas, Greenhall & Furman in Philadelphia.
"However, not wanting the public knowing when they'll be out of town could be a valid employee concern," says Landesman.
For that reason, it's best to post paper-based schedules in employee-only areas, typically where other employment-related notices are posted. Or use an electronic system that's only accessible to employees, such as Outlook calendars or intranet sites.
Final tip: If you do post vacation schedules on a bulletin board, place a cover sheet over it so passersby can't view it easily.
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