Global HR Glossary

What are floating holidays?

Floating holidays are a simple and valuable benefit that can boost employee morale and engagement.

  • Definition

  • Reasons

  • How to

What are floating holidays?

A floating holiday is a paid day of absence from work that is flexible to use on any day of an employee’s choosing.

This employer-provided benefit is separate from the established company holidays and paid time off (PTO). In essence, it's a day of leave that floats and can be used at the employee's discretion.

Employers may offer floating holidays for various reasons. The benefit acknowledges the diverse needs and preferences of the workforce. While some employees might value traditional holidays, others may have personal, cultural, or religious observances that are equally important. By providing floating holidays, employers can accommodate these differences, fostering a more inclusive work environment.

It's essential to note that floating holidays are not legally required, and their provision is at the employer's discretion. These days off typically go beyond the legally mandated paid holidays and PTO, offering employees additional flexibility in managing their work-life balance.

What are floating holidays for?

Floating holidays can serve a range of purposes, catering to the individual needs and preferences of employees. Here are some common reasons why employees may choose to take a floating holiday:

  • Religious or cultural observations – Employees from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds often have specific holidays or observances that are not part of the standard company holiday calendar. A floating holiday allows them to celebrate these occasions without using regular PTO.

  • Mental health day – Mental health is a critical aspect of overall well-being. A floating holiday can be used as a mental health day, providing employees with the opportunity to recharge and destress.

  • Birthday or wedding celebration – A floating holiday may be used to take a day off for a special occasion, such as a birthday, wedding, or anniversary. Having the flexibility to fully celebrate these days can help employees feel more satisfied with their work-life balance.

The benefits of offering floating holidays are substantial. This flexibility can lead to increased job satisfaction, engagement, and a more inclusive work environment. A floating holiday is one of many core benefits to consider offering in order to attract and retain top talent.

How to create a floating holiday policy

A floating holiday policy is a formal set of guidelines that outline how floating holidays are granted, when they can be used, and any associated terms and conditions. 

While the specific details of a policy may vary from one organisation to another, a typical floating holiday policy includes:

  • Eligibility – Define who is eligible for floating holidays. Typically, this includes all regular full-time employees, but some may include part-time employees as well.

  • Number of floating holidays allowed – Specify the number of floating holidays to which employees are entitled within a specific time frame.

  • Accrual or granting – Clarify whether floating holidays are accrued over time or granted upfront at the beginning of each year, as well as whether they carry over into the next year.

  • Request and approval – Outline the process for requesting and approving floating holidays. This includes outlining how to request a floating holiday date and how much notice to provide in advance.

A well-structured floating holiday policy helps maintain consistency and transparency in granting and using these flexible days off. Once created, make sure to clearly communicate the policy to all employees, and encourage them to take advantage of this special perk.

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