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What You Should Know About PTO

Key Takeaways

  • Companies are replacing traditional sick/vacation time plans with simpler “no questions asked” paid time off (PTO) models.
  • Have a conversation with your manager now about sick time before flu season starts.
  • When sick employees stay home, everyone benefits.

By Melissa Green | Citizens Bank Staff

Whether you’re shopping for a new job or looking to take some time off, it’s really important to understand your company’s paid time off (PTO) policy. Why? Because unfortunately, everyone gets sick — and with the upcoming flu season, it’s good to know your options before you need them.

Here are a few things you should keep in mind when researching a company’s PTO policy.

How does the company allocate time off?

There are typically two ways that companies allocate PTO: They'll either grant you an entire year’s worth of PTO on the first day of the calendar year, or you'll gradually accumulate time off as you go.

If you’re a new hire and you’re accruing time as you go, you should definitely have this sick time conversation upfront with your manager. What if, for instance, you come down with the flu during your first month and you’ve only accrued one sick day — what are your options? Some companies allow you to borrow time or roll over unused time from the previous year (if applicable), or you may need to take unpaid leave. You don’t want to be considering these choices for the first time when you’re battling a fever.

How does the company categorize time off?

Every company has their own PTO benefits, but a traditional breakdown could look like this:

  • 2 weeks paid vacation time
  • 10 days of paid holidays
  • 2 personal days
  • 8 sick days

If your company follows a similar model, then it’s important to understand the policy. Many employers may not allow you to use time interchangeably. For example, it’s taboo in some companies to use sick days as vacation days.

However, more companies today are leaning toward providing employees with a blanket 20-25 days of PTO per year. This means you can use your paid time off for whatever you need. Whether you’ve contracted the flu or you’re going on your honeymoon, you don’t need to specify the reason.

Some companies even have unlimited PTO, which is a strong recruiting tool for top talent.

Don’t go to work sick

When sick employees stay home, everyone benefits. If you don’t take that sick day when you need it, that little sniffle could turn into an all-out cold … or worse! Any rational boss would rather have you stay home for a day rather than lose you for a week. Additionally, if you’re home, you’ll be keeping your germs away from your boss and your colleagues. So make sure you’re aware of your sick leave policy, and use it appropriately.

What to remember

Do some digging on your company’s website or talk to your manager or HR rep. It’s important to know what benefits your organization has to offer. By educating yourself now, you’ll know how to use your time wisely when you need to.

More information

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