Paid Wedding Leave – Not!

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Did you know employers in Spain are required to provide 15 days paid wedding leave to employees who are getting married? In Croatia, marriage is considered an “important personal need” and, therefore, qualifies for up to 7 day paid leave from work.[1]  This type of personal leave is also available in a number of African countries (including Libya, South Africa and Togo).[2]

Wedding Ducks, Rystheguy, Wikimedia Commons

Other countries in Europe and around the world provide varying amounts of paid leave for employees who are getting married, either in the form of specific wedding leave or as an accepted use of paid personal leave. We know Europe has very strong labor laws and robust labor unions, so it’s not surprising their leave policies are equally employee-friendly when it comes to weddings. What’s more surprising are progressive leave policies elsewhere in the world. For example, Singapore, which only became fully independent in 1965, typically provides 3-14 days wedding leave.

Wedding Leave - No Such Thing 

If you're planning a wedding in the US, however, you’ll likely have to use your paid vacation time (assuming you get paid vacation!), which will undoubtedly be less than the minimum 20 days paid leave that European employees are entitled to[3]. Even the most established American corporations, that typically do provide paid vacation, offer little or no specific support for marriage-bound employees. Xerox, for example, allows employees up to three days to “complete wedding arrangements,” with any additional time coming out of vacation allotments or unpaid leave. Most US firms provide even less.

In the absence of paid wedding leave, here are some strategies to consider for getting that much needed time to plan and enjoy your wedding.

  1. As soon as you set the date, talk to your employer about carrying forward unused vacation time. If you can save a week of vacation this year and add it to next year’s allotment, it might give you the breathing room you need.
  2. If you are entitled to personal days, use them for focused planning days or add them to accumulated vacation time to extend your wedding break.
  3. If you’ve been banking overtime hours, discuss taking some time off in lieu of payment. If the opportunity exists to take on some extra work now in return for time off in lieu when you need it most, jump on it.
  4. Talk to your manager about flexible hours or working from home sometimes. Working four longer days in return for one afternoon off each week could be just what you need to handle planning details. Working from home could do the same just by freeing up the time you normally spend commuting.
  5. If you’re set on a longer break before and after the wedding, or have no other options available, you may have to request unpaid leave. Although even unpaid leave is not an entitlement since FMLA regulations do not cover marriage. Given enough notice and the resources to plan around your absence, most reasonable employers will give you some unpaid leave to get married.

A Marriage of Planning and Flexibility

As an employee who is getting married, you need to initiate the conversation around time off as soon as possible so you know you are working with and your manager can plan for your absence.

As an employer, it’s important to recognize that marriage is a significant personal event in the life of an employee. Where specific policies are lacking to provide people with some mental space and time off for this key life-stage event, it makes sense for managers to be as flexible as they can in the application of existing leave policies. Supporting employees in what matters most to them builds trust and helps forge stronger long-term relationships. (Do I hear retention bells?).

 

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[2] Maternity and paternity at work: Law and practice across the world

 http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---dcomm/documents/publication/wcms_242615.pdf

[3] No‐vacation nation USA  - a comparison of leave and holiday in OECD countries  http://www.law.harvard.edu/programs/lwp/papers/No_Holidays.pdf

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