About ten years ago this month, I made a trek to France and visited the beaches of Normandy.

It’s a breathtaking place. But in the midst of the beauty of the coastline is the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. Spread out over 175 acres, nearly 10,000 U.S. soldiers are buried there. Row after row, in perfect symmetry, are monuments to Americans that died — many in the D-Day invasion.

There was something about that visit that has always stuck with me.  It made me appreciate the tremendous sacrifices that so many people made so that we could live in freedom today.  

Whatever our complaints that we may have about our nation’s legal system, let’s be grateful that we live under the rule of law, not that of a dictator.  If we don’t like a law or a decision, we can always petition our legislators for a change. 

So, on this Memorial Day, let us all give thanks to those who have given their lives so that we can live in freedom today. 

The Memorial Day Holiday Weekend has turned into the "unofficial" beginning of the summer season (though it hasn’t exactly felt like summer yet in Connecticut).  With that, there are a whole host of issues that also make an annual re-appearance.  Here are a few to think about. 

Vacations/Paid Time Off — Vacations are a common part of the summer season. Some companies use "Paid Time Off", while other companies specifically designate that employees can use vacation time.  But can the employer do anything to regulate it? Yes, particularly the employer’s policies are up to date.  What are some questions for an employer to consider?

  • Do your policies require employees to seek time off in advance?
  • Do you require employees to coordinate with other vacation schedules?
  • Do you have a "use it or lose it" policy on vacations, where employees are required to use vacation time by the end of the year, or do you allow for some carryover? If so, how much?
  • Do you have employees vacation time on a pro-rata basis? In other words, do employees get a day vacation for each month during the year worked?
  • Do your policies dictate that if the employee does take vacation time that has not accrued, what the penalties are?

Friday Sick Days — There’s nothing quite as intoxicating in the summer as the long three-day weekend.  And, with that comes "Friday Fever" .  The symptoms? An otherwise healthy employee calling in on a beautiful sunny Friday.  What are some questions to consider?

  • Does it make sense to change to a simple "Paid Time Off" policy that doesn’t distinguish between vacation and sick time?
  • What documentation do you ask employees for when out on sick days?
  • Do you pay employees for a paid holiday, like Memorial Day, if the employee has been absent the day before or after such a holiday, without approval?

Summer Parties and Office Dress — As with the office party around the December holidays, many companies have corporate outings.  With the warm weather, some might even include swimming or decent amounts of alcohol.  Summer dress codes also tend to allow for more revealing attire. What can the employer consider for these summer outings and summer dress?

  • Are the employers policies on harassment and discrimination up to date and do they make explicit reference to the fact that "work" also includes company-sponsored outings?
  • Are dress codes easy to understand and enforce? Do they provide employees with sufficient guidance on what is expected of them?
  • Have expectations been set up for employees about what is proper behavior and dress at corporate summer functions?
  • Are any summer hires (college or high-school interns) apprised of the rules and regulations of the company, and have employees been advised how to deal with these employees? 

These questions are by no means exhaustive, nor are the topics, but with summer season here, it’s too easy to just "pass" on the issues for a later time.  Considering these issues now, before they arise, can help prevent some a serious summer heartburn later on.