Question: Can you suggest a best practice policy for a service recognition program?

Answer: Awards for length of service are a common form of employee recognition. Employees like service award programs because they provide all employees with an equal opportunity to receive recognition, and the criteria is objective because it is based on the date of hire. Likewise, employers find these programs to be both useful and beneficial because they are easy and inexpensive to administer.
Here are some things to keep in mind when crafting a service recognition program:

  • Be sure to outline the eligibility criteria. Many employers go by years of service in multiples of five.
  • Within that criteria, include a rehire policy that states how long an employee may be gone from the workplace before their seniority date “resets” for tenure award purposes. Consider a statement such as: “Employees who leave XYZ Company and are rehired after more than [____ days/weeks/months/years] will be eligible for service awards based on their rehire date.”
  • Determine the substance of the actual award. Some employers offer a menu of awards for each tier and some have set awards that become more valuable as the years of service accumulate. Be sure the awards are applied consistently and that program changes are publicized to all employees to avoid issues with employee expectations and claims of unfairness or discrimination.
  • Keep in mind that military leaves cannot negatively impact tenure because taking such leaves cannot cause “harm” to the employees. Consider whether adjusting tenure for any leaves (family and medical leave, disability, pregnancy, etc.) could create discriminatory issues related to the reward policy.

As always, we recommend reviewing new or modified policies with counsel prior to implementation.


The content contained herein is for informational purposes only. It is not intended, nor should it be taken, as legal or tax advice or a substitute for legal counsel.