What is a reasonable Paid Time Off (PTO) Policy?
Most businesses recognize that a comprehensive benefits package attracts high-quality employees in a competitive market.
- Clearly defined
That being said, each policy will vary based on a company’s size, structure, and culture.
For instance, a large and successful company might grant unlimited paid days off. In this case, employers trust their employees won’t abuse the system. Employees are responsible for managing their time in a way that allows them to meet project goals and deadlines.
Other companies might have banked or accrued paid leave policies. Often, employees under these policies can use a “personal day” at their discretion (e.g., to care for a sick child, attend appointments, or take a vacation). However, there may be a limit to the number of hours accrued or banked per year.
Holidays and vacation time
Again, it’s up to employers to include holidays in their PTO policies (though most businesses pay workers for time off on popular holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas).
Employers can also set rules for vacation days, such as:
- Asking employees to refrain from taking vacation during their busy season
- Mandating vacation days at certain times of the year (e.g., an annual plant shutdown)
- Requiring employees to request time off before planning their vacations
- Requiring managers to approve time off requests
- Paying out unused vacation upon termination of employment
Keep in mind that rules around vacation policies must also abide by any state or local labor laws.
The FMLA doesn’t cover bereavement leave, and only a few states (California, Illinois, Maryland, Oregon, and Washington) require employers to provide it. That said, employers recognize the emotional toll of losing a loved one and often include bereavement leave in their PTO policies.
Of course, grief is something that people carry with them for the rest of their lives. But, with some time off, they can at least avoid the stresses of work while they grieve. When they return, they’ll be in a better state of mind to resume their responsibilities.
The importance of an employee handbook
As we mentioned, a reasonable PTO policy is flexible, clearly defined, and motivating.
In the end, employees that understand how their employer helps them achieve a healthy work/life balance are more productive and satisfied with their jobs.