Make Life Easier for Yourself and Your Employees – Simplify Your Time Off Policy

Sick of Sick Time

Do you frequently find yourself wanting to nominate certain employees for an Emmy, or better yet, a Razzie when they attempt to portray themselves as being at death’s door with a cold in order to miss a day of work when they have used up vacation and/or personal days?  Sick of having to listen to forced coughs, fake sniffles and mumbling through an excuse to stay home or playing the role of truant officer trying to collect doctor’s notes when you know that the eighty-degree, cloud-free day is like a siren’s call from nearby beaches?  Perhaps you should save yourself some frustration and consider combining all components of paid-time off – vacation, sick and personal days -into one PTO bank.  Businesses that implement this type of PTO program typically offer the same number of days for total time off that they did under their traditional siloed model or fewer days depending upon their circumstances for shift coverage, compliance, etc.  An all-in-one PTO solution, could lessen the stress for employees who are not ready to quit their day job for acting gigs as well as HR and management teams by not subjecting them to playing judge and jury for what is appropriate use of earned time.  While this may not work for all businesses, it can be a significant improvement for both employees and employer.

A couple of years ago, we decided to convert Checkmate’s separate policies regarding vacation time, sick time and personal time into a single Paid Time Off policy. All in all, I think that this was a great decision. Some of the advantages of offering a PTO bank are:

  • With a unified PTO policy, you don’t need to care about why your employee is taking time off. All you need to care about is whether or not they complied with the minimum days of advanced notice rules. At Checkmate, any time an employee uses PTO time, and management is given less than 72 hours advance notice, this is documented as an “unexcused absence.” 3 unexcused absences are allowed in a calendar year.
  • In the old world, where each employee earned vacation/sick/personal time separately, healthy employees would be penalized, in essence, because they might not use all of their sick time in a year, while others who ultimately contributed less, benefited more.
  • Improved employee morale: Simple is better. Simplifying the PTO process and gaining greater command over their time off is typically viewed as a positive, empowering thing by employees.

The primary downside to a unified approach to PTO is that, at least in the State of NH, vacation time is considered to be a vested benefit; whereas sick time and personal time are not. This means that when you convert to a single PTO bank, you will owe your employee for 100% of all accrued PTO time that they have in their bank, upon termination. Technically speaking, this means that we might be on the hook for paying out the equivalent of what previously would have been sick or personal time, because when you combine this all into PTO, all of the time is considered to be vested when it is earned.

Tracking PTO accruals and managing time off, especially through manual processes, can be a daunting task no matter the complexity of your PTO protocols.  With Checkmate HCM, we can help you relieve that burden.  We work with our clients upon initial implementation to custom configure their solution to match their existing PTO accrual policies and carry over existing balances.  We can also set up rules for when PTO can be used, which can include automatically denying or approving requests based upon PTO availability, coverage within team or department when another employee has already been approved for overlapping time off, routing requests to alternate approvers when a approving manager is out of the office or other user-defined rules and exceptions.

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