PTO vs Separate Vacation/Sick Time Pots

Currently we have a PTO policy in place. Can you advise which is the "norm" for companies currently. Are companies opting to have separate vacation and sick time pots or are they leaning towards PTO? What scale is generally used when giving the PTO/Vacation or sick time in relationship to the years of service? :help:


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  • I don't think there really is a 'norm' for this. I believe there is a trend to go to PTO, but I think it usually aligns with whatever they were previously doing. For instance, when we went the PTO route in 1998 we kept our accruals at the same rate. We simply combined sick and vacation. Later, we changed it by adding what had previously been personal leave days. A few years later, we changed how employees could buy time or the amount paid when employees termed (it used to be 35% payout, now it is 100%). We still keep holiday pay separate, though I know many companies combine those with PTO.

    As far as the years of service part of your question goes, I think I would check industry standards and go with that. Every company, and every industry, is different.

    Hope this helps. Good luck!

  • Our office benefits expert, Jessica, sent out an article from yahoo yesterday ([URL=""]click here to read it[/URL]) about the extreme measures and new technologies employers are using to catch employees abusing leave time.

    Mainly the article focused on employees who were abusing long-term leave like workers' comp, but towards the end, the article mentions two examples of employees who seem to be using sick leave for vacations/fun times. The first is a woman who called in sick with the flu and went to Universal Studios instead. The second is a man who took sick leave but went on a cruise.

    This makes me think of what I see as the downside to having separate sick and vacation leave banks from an employee's perspective (at least this employee). I think most employees see leave as part of their benefits package, so to say you can only use part of your leave if you are sick seems unfair -- especially if you take care of yourself and don't get sick (which is the kind of employee you want for many financial reasons).

    I've never actually worked somewhere that had separate leave banks (and I am definitely not the office benefits expert), so is that perception wrong? What are the benefits to separate banks?
  • I've worked with both systems and the only benefit to separate banks thatI can think of is that we are required to pay out unused vacation or PTO time at termination, but not sick time. It's still not worth the hassle to me. I got so sick (pun intended) of being lied to when I knew the employee wasn't sick. It increases unplanned time off, especially late in the year. You are right, most employees consider sick time part of their benefits package and will take it all. Amazing how many employees were sick excactly 7 days (or whatever it is) every.

    Separate banks tend to penalize honest employees who won't do that and end up forfeiting unused sick days. Also, I found it hard to dock somebody with a family emergency or sick child when they'd used all their vacation, but still had plenty of sick time. PTO definitely works better for me.
  • Personally, I like having them separately.

    A good rule of thumb, for new employees, is two weeks vacation time, 2 days personal time, and 6-12 days of sick time per year. (Longevity would increase the amount of vacation time.)

    This is especially good if the sick time is not an annual use it or lose it plan. Employees can build up sick time to be used in conjunction with FMLA for extended absences when needed. Also, I think it's important to allow employees to use sick time to care for immediate family members.

    Personal time is great if it is a "no questions asked" leave. This allows employees two days a year to take care of personal business without having to provide an explanation to their supervisor. I would require, however, for that to be scheduled in advance.

    Having to use what little vacation time many employees receive for sick days isn't really a vacation and most employees never really get adequate time to separate themselves from work stress, family stress, etc. So having that time separate from sick and personal time is a valued by many employees.

    This much benefit may seem a bit over the top, but it goes a long way toward building employee loyalty, particularly like now when many companies aren't offering raises or bonuses.

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