PTO: Sunday Morning Question


December 13, 2009

Paid Time Off.  Most companies offer PTO for various types of things such as vacation, sick time, holidays, jury duty, berevement, etc.  Some offer these days in the form of doling out how many the employee can use for each ,i.e., 18 vacation days, 10 sick days, 1 personal day. Other companies give each employee a total pool of days ,i.e.,  33 PTO days per year, to use how the employee chooses.

Two questions for you:

1.  How does your employer handle paid time off?

2. What are some pros and cons of companies moving to granting the pool of days approach?


  • This was my first year at the organization and when I reviewed the employee manual I realized the time off policy needed amending. It’s a small staff under 25. There was no sick time policy at all meaning if you called off sick you took the time you felt appropriate and it wasn’t recorded anywhere. I was able to convey that as utopian as we might consider the place, not having a policy set us up for potential complaints.

    I got the buy in needed to change it though my suggestion of adding 10 days to the policy and converting it to PTO was not accepted by the Board’s Personnel Committee, made up mostly of an undiverse group of older male bankers (I am now working on helping to diversify the Board). The feeling was that there is a psychology behind giving people a bank of days, that they would see them all as vacation days and use them.

    We compromised and came up with:
    10-15-20 vacation days at 1-5-10 years (this already was the practice but we added max 5 carried over to be used by next 1st Q).
    Added: 3 personal days (use or lose).
    30 days unpaid PLOA based on a compelling reason (existed).

    In reality the way it has always worked and will continue to do so, is that the staff is very highly valued and anyone that has a personal crisis that needs time off to deal with it will get it. The feeling is that it has never been abused in the 150 year history and so why fix what isn’t broken. That is both comforting as an employee and disturbing as the HR Director.

  • My employer has a mix of them, but honestly I think throwing it all in a bucket and saying “use it how you want” is the way to go. Can’t tell you how many sick days I’ve left on the table over the years. How better to reward good employees than removing the guilt associated with using part of their benefits? I promise the bad employees don’t suffer the same burden.

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.




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