Advice » Salary & Benefits» Benefits Information » Pleasures and Perils of Pa ...
Pleasures and Perils of Paid Time-Off Plans

Pleasures and Perils of Paid Time-Off Plans

Weary of the costly games some workers play with elaborate systems of vacation, personal and sick days, many large employers have shuffled the deck and called a new game: paid time off (PTO). 

PTO plans, by which employees accrue days off in a single account and spend them more or less as they wish, are a mixed bag from the worker's point of view.

"Workers who are healthy and who have healthy families love PTOs," because they can take some of the days that were formerly classified as sick days as vacation, says Therese Hoehne, director of human resources at Aurora University in Aurora, Illinois.

Conversely, those accustomed to taking "sick of work" days to use up allotted sick days dislike PTO plans, she notes. Indeed, says Arlene Vernon, a human resources consultant in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, "some companies realize that employees with absenteeism problems have been getting a better benefit" under traditional plans with dedicated sick days.

Drawbacks and Advantages

PTO plans have at least one major minus for workers: Employers converting a traditional time-off plan to a PTO plan usually don't give workers the full sum of the previous accrual rates for vacation, personal and sick days; they curb the high cost of time off by shaving some days off the grand total. For example, a worker who received 15 vacation days, three personal days and six sick days under a traditional plan might receive only 20 paid days off under a PTO plan to cover all these contingencies.

On the plus side, whereas unused sick days under a traditional plan generally cannot be carried over to the next year, unused PTO days usually can be, often subject to a cap on total days accrued. If an employee budgets himself for five sick days and uses only two in the year they accrue, he can usually carry over the remaining three and use them as he sees fit.

Furthermore, "in most states, paid time off, like vacation time, has to be paid out when the employee leaves the employer," says Harry Secaras, a partner in the labor and employment practice at Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg in Chicago. You can find out more about your rights under the law by contacting your state's Department of Labor.

"Most employers will tie PTO into their disability benefits," Secaras says. "They'll allow you to carry over enough PTO days to get through the deductible period" before short-term disability coverage begins. But looking at this situation the other way, a month-long illness could kill your plan for a two-week vacation by forcing you to use 10 or more PTO days for sick time before your short-term disability benefits kick in.

How to Manage Your PTO

Under a PTO plan, "employees own the burden of plotting out [their] year for both planned and unplanned time off," says David Lewis, president of, a human resources consulting firm in Stamford, Connecticut. Since you can't know for certain how much time off you'll need for sick days, school snow days and the like, this challenge can be substantial.

"If you have 25 PTO days, don't get sucked into the trap [of thinking] that you have five weeks' vacation," Lewis advises. Instead, add up the days you took off in the previous year for unanticipated sick and personal needs, and project from there.

Also be aware that some companies may use the conversion to a PTO plan to begin charging your time-off account for personal appointments such as doctor visits. If your employer trumpets the flexibility of time-off increments as small as half a day or even an hour, you might want to plan for a couple of days of PTO per year for doctor and dentist appointments, even if you're in excellent health.

Articles in This Feature:  

Latest Jobs

Posted: 05/29/2015
West Deptford, NJ, 08066
Posted: 05/29/2015
Pottstown, PA, 19464
Posted: 05/29/2015
West Greenwich, RI, 02817
Posted: 05/29/2015
Norristown, PA, 19401

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile


Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
Create and connect.
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.


100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2015 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2015.8.0.34-218