SURVEY SAYS: Leaving Time Off on the Table

Our team has been scrambling to put in the last of our PTO days for this year.

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers, “Will you be giving up some PTO or vacation days this year, and does your company allow you to carry any time into the next year?”

The good news for responding readers is 81.5% said they will not be giving up any PTO or vacation time this year. However, 7.9% are giving up five days or more, 3.9% each are giving up two days or three days, and 1.3% each said they are giving up one day or four days.

More than one-third (34.7%) of responding readers’ companies allow employees to carry over more than ten days of PTO or vacation, The same percentage allow carryover of one to five days, 10.7% allow carryover of six to ten days and 20% do not allow any vacation of PTO days to be rolled over.

Many of responding readers who left comments gave some very good arguments for using all your time and not leaving any on the table. However, several noted that even if they take a vacation or PTO day, they end up working some that day or on the weekend to keep up with the work they have. I like the suggestion, given by a few readers that the company pay an employee for unused days instead of them being forfeited. Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said: “We need happier survey topics this close to the holidays, it’s not fun being reminded that I haven’t used all my vacation days!” Stay tuned. Next week will be happier.

Thanks to everyone who responded to the survey!


We are able to roll over 160 hours, but I can never use all of the amount above that cap. Makes me sad to lose them!

I don't believe anyone at our Company has ever given up a vacation day. They can carry over for up to two years.

On paper, I never leave vacation days on the table. However, for at least 75% of my days "off", I am doing at least some work remotely. But, if I can do that, not come in to the office, and still get to do most of what personal activities I want to do, I can live with that.

We need happier survey topics this close to the holidays, it's not fun being reminded that I haven't used all my vacation days!

I will never give up my PTO days. My personal time is too valuable.

PTO is for employees to have a work/life balance. You need to take your PTO to have balance. However, I do wish my company would buy back PTO, better than losing it if you don't use it.

I only leave them as a "bank" for a special a month in Fiji...I wish!

If I don't have anything specific planned, it just isn't worth the extra hours spent preparing to be out and then likely working more when I get back, in order to catch up.

My company loves my personal annual contribution (forfeiture) to the bottom-line, of my excess vacation time. Man, if I could give it away instead, I'd be like a rock star.

We currently work on an accrual basis which helped eliminate the last minute end of year lack of personnel to get things done.

My manager is very proactive about making sure that all employees find a way to use their PTO time, since it is forfeited if not used by the end of the year.

Why would anyone leave vacation days on the table? None of us are that important, and we all need to take a break from work to refresh ourselves.

We have a very generous company that allows us to carry over 1/2 of our allotted days for the year to the next year....very generous because they want to get as much work out of us as they can.....don't use your days, carry them over....

Is anyone really ever on vacation when they're on vacation? Seems like I work through holidays, vacation days, sick days, etc. so it's frustrating, but not surprising to not be able to schedule vacation days.

Our company allows you to carry over 5 days of vacation over to the next year. Anything beyond that and you lose them. You earn the time off - use them! News flash people, the company will continue to run if you aren't there.

we accrue vacation each pay period so it's always rolling and there's no deadline to use it. Only caveat is that we cannot accrue more than 200 hours so if you don't use it by 200 hours you don't accrue any more

Verbatim (cont.) 

Our limit is not annually, but monthly. We receive a monthly accrual into our vacation bank. If our bank reaches a ceiling, then we lose the accrual. Current planning involves verifying my balance is low enough that I don't lose any accruals during busy season. Ongoing planning is required throughout the year to prevent the hours from building too high.

There are never enough of them. I used more than I had this year.

Hey - if you need to get rid of some days I'll take them off your hands!!!

Vacation days are like gold and I would never give them up. Can never have enough! Remember, the corporation won't be there when you are on your death bed. Your family will be there!!!!

As a company we've been trying to reduce the amount of PTO that can be carried over BUT there are years when it is harder for a lot of people to take all their PTO so the carryover is a moving target from year to year - this year they added 2 full days to the amount we could carry. Nice but having the time to take off would have been better...

Our carryover days may only be used if out of the office on short-term disability, not at employee discretion. A payout option should be available for unused days, not losing them or applying them against a situation which may never happen.

Nobody is so important that they can't use their PTO. Leaving vacation days on the table is like not contributing enough to the 401k to meet the company match.

The only reasons to ever leave vacation days on the table are "bad planning" and "wrong priorities". Everyone can have work/life balance with the right priorities and good planning.

This is my first job where everyone has to take their vacation in the same year they earn it. As the payroll and benefits person, it's a challenge to track and then remove any leftover vacation. To me, that's money down the drain! Ugh

Every year, I feel taken advantage of. By my employer, as well as my co-workers. Loyalty sucks.

We start reminding staff at the beginning of September and help them to calculate how much PTO they need to take in order not to lose any hours over the 80 they can carry forward.

Never do it!

I'm not leaving any vacation days on the table but I am leaving sick days. Does being "sick" of work count?!?!


Try to never do that...they give so little, it would be foolish.

It's just crazy! It's also poor time management.

Verbatim (cont.) 

never do it. Companies are, in the end, heartless. Why give anything back to them?

It doesn't bother me too much as our vacation policy is generous. Based on the current situation, taking more vacation just means that I have to work longer on the other days. The work still needs to get done and there seems to be an endless supply of that.


Thank goodness for carry over! Some day I'll actually use that extra week of PTO that I have been carrying over from year to year for about 10 years now!

Carry over must be used by end of 1st quarter of the following year.

Though we cannot carry over our vacation days, we can donate them to a bank for other employees who are off unpaid for their own or dependent's illness after exhausting their own paid leave.

Don't do it!

Vacation and PTOs must be used by the end of the year. If they are not used, then they are paid out at straight time hourly rate. This can be differentiated from by special case agreement. The only other time is if you have these days scheduled and productions require you to be present, then you are allowed to carry any remaining days over into the following year.

We accrue time on a per pay period basis. The accrual amount depends on length of service. We are allowed to have a maximum of 120 PTO hours in our bank at any time. If one has 120 hours in their bank and earns more time, it won't accrue since the maximum has been reached. So, we don't have a worry at year end about carryover.

We accrue vacation on a monthly basis with a maximum bank allowed. If my bank is full at the end of any given month, I won't accrue the next month unless I take some time off. I work really hard to NOT lose any vacation. It is not uncommon for me to take a Friday off, just to use a day, but then work on Saturday to get the work done. It may seem illogical, but it works. I get more done in less time on a Saturday when no one is around! Plus, I have 'me' time on Friday!

Should be against some law!

Why would anyone want to do that?

I am fortunate to work for an employer who provides significant opportunity to earn leave time. Of course, I can never use it all, but it's nice to dream.

Our company allows you to carryover up to a week. However, if you have 5 weeks of vacation (15 years or more of service) you can't carry anything over. Those employees regularly give up a week (sometimes more) of vacation. ??

I never leave days on the table. I use all the time I have earned. We do not get paid enough as it is, they have not given raises in the last 3 years, our medical premiums just doubled... I refuse to let them take anything that is within my control away from me.


NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Asset International or its affiliates.
Reported by
Please contact the PLANSPONSOR Reprint Manager, Michelle Judkins.