PTO Benefits Cited, But Costs, Results Uncertain: Survey

June 29, 2001 ( - Nearly all (96%) of employers say that paid-time off (PTO) is an effective way to attract and retain talent, but many firms do not know if having a PTO "bank" actually reduces unscheduled absenteeism ? or the cost of total time off.

A new study from Hewitt Associates, “Managing Time Off 2000/2001”, found that 18% of responding companies had a PTO bank in 2000, compared to just 6% in a 1997 Hewitt survey. More than half (53%) of those with a PTO bank implemented them in 1998 or later.

For the purposes of this study, a PTO bank must have included both sick days and vacation days. In addition, personal days, holidays, floating holidays, and/or family illness days were also allowed.

Over and Out?

  • 63% of the companies surveyed allow vacation carryover for exempt employees, while a comparable 64% allow it for hourly workers
  • 15% allow vacation cash out
  • 10% allow vacation buying and/or selling.

Sick Daze

  • Among the 69% of companies who track sick day use, exempt employees took an average of 3.7 sick days in 1999, compared with an average of 4.7 days for nonexempt workers
  • Over half (59%) of companies allow employees to use their own sick days to care for a family member
  • 59% of the companies provide short-term disability (STD) benefits for exempt employees, a slightly higher 62% provide them for nonexempt employees
  • 54% of the companies provide sick days for exempt employees, 56% provide sick days for nonexempt employees

Sabbaticals/Vacation Bonus Programs

5% of the companies currently offer paid and/or unpaid sabbaticals, most often to:

  • 77% – allow employees to refresh and recharge
  • 54% – increase employees’ personal growth opportunities
  • 35% – allow employees to contribute to the community or society

Just 5% of the companies surveyed currently offer a vacation bonus program, with the vast majority (90%) citing a reward for employees after a specific period of service. However, nearly half (43%) said it would enhance the ability to recruit desired employees, and 38% said it allowed employees to refresh and recharge.

More than 500 organizations from diverse industries participated in the survey.