I’m in HR for a medium-sized company. I’m really tired of monitoring sick leave abuse. Our policy allows sick leave to be used for an employee’s own illness or medical appointments, as well as the employee’s immediate family. But it seems everyone has doctor’s appointments on Fridays, headaches on Mondays, and comes down with the flu during March Madness! It’s not fair to those of us who never take a sick day.
Dear “Policy Police,”
Attendance reporting, corrective counseling, verifying doctor’s notes, and meting out disciplinary action can take a copious amount of management time. My advice: Get out of the baby-sitting business by instituting PTO – one bank of Paid Time Off that combines vacation, sick days, and personal days.
Less supervisory oversight is just one of the advantages of PTO. Before making the switch, however, consider both the pros and the cons.
Pros & Cons of a PTO Policy
PRO: While private sector businesses are not required by law to provide paid sick or vacation time, most companies realize that offering PTO attracts and keeps employees, even more so than traditional sick/vacation/personal day policies.
CON: PTO tends to be viewed as one big vacation time bucket, so employees may take more time off than with a separate paid sick day/vacation day system. This could mean more staff coverage must be arranged.
PRO: Many companies find employees take fewer unscheduled sick days when they have the opportunity to plan and use PTO. Supervisors will likely get more notice of absences and find it easier to find coverage in advance than when someone calls in sick at the last minute.
PRO: No need to fake it! Employees like to be treated like adults rather than required to bring doctors’ notes. (And really, in this day and age, it’s incredibly easier to forge excuses than it was back in junior high when trying to ditch gym class).
PRO: PTO can be used equally by all employees, including who get sick less frequently or don’t have to take time off for dependent appointments (whether child or parent).
CON: Like the unwise green protagonist in The Ant and the Grasshopper fable, some employees may use up all of their PTO for vacation time, creating a hardship when they or a family member becomes ill. (But adults need to accept the consequences of their actions.)
PRO: PTO is easier to administer, which can mean cost savings.
CON: In some states, the law treats PTO like vacation time when it comes to calculating final wages at termination. While companies generally are not required to “cash out” for sick time, businesses could end up paying out more for PTO.
One last California CON: If your company is in California, PTO may not meet the minimum level of benefits mandated by the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act (HWHFA), especially for part-time workers.
Readers: What do you think are the pros and cons of a traditional vacation/sick day policy versus PTO?
Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.
Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.