Many of our clients develop a family employment policy as part of continuity planning. Some of the components of this policy articulate the circumstances under which family members will be hired, compensated, appraised, promoted, and terminated. And often we are told that the family business must remain a meritocracy, where family members earn their positions, and should be treated the same as non-family employees.
This philosophy seems appropriate when often there is much at stake and all employees need to be competent and held accountable. Also, non-family employees want to see that there is opportunity for them, even when their last name is not on the door. Family businesses should be run professionally in order to perpetuate the business through future generations.
That said there are times when exceptions to employment protocol might, and even should be made. Vacation time is one topic that often comes up when next generation family members join the business. They are often just starting their careers and take a position that offers two weeks vacation. However in some cases family members are given one or two additional paid weeks vacation. Senior management permits this for a number of reasons that are in fact, defendable:
- The family may have meetings about the business while they are on vacation.
- Junior generation family members are often expected to take courses or attend conferences that are family-business related. These courses often take place on weekends.
- Family members are often invited to weddings and other events hosted by co-workers or family business associates, that require travel on weekends. Often junior generation members are strongly encouraged by their parents and/or senior management to attend these events.
- There are often ceremonies and celebrations that are business related, and family members are expected to attend as ambassadors of the business. These events often take them away from their families if travel is required.
- Community events sometimes require representatives from the business to attend. These are typically in the evenings and again, are responsibilities that family members take on in addition to their day to day work responsibilities.
While all employees sometimes make commitments on behalf of the business that are outside of regular work hours, often for family members it adds up to several days or even weeks in a year. Therefore, consideration is given to additional vacation time in an effort to make up for the significant investment made to work related commitments.