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February 10, 2010
Paid Time Off: Labor Law Attorney Offers the Basics

In a BLR webinar, “Solving PTO Problems: How to Reduce Unscheduled Absences Without Alienating Employees or Violating the Law,” attorney Catherine Moreton Gray outlined basic facts and figures about paid time off.

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Most U.S. workplaces (53.1 percent) use a paid time off bank. Reasons for the growing use of PTO banks include administrative ease, fewer unexpected absences, flexibility to accommodate the needs of all employees, respect for employee diversity and privacy, and perceived equity.

Gray said most PTO banks include vacation, sick leave and personal time off. Some include dependent care, family death leave, and holidays.

The number of days in a PTO bank varies by employer size, with most offering 11 to 19 days. Employers with at least 500 but fewer than 1,000 employees were more likely to give exempt employees 20 to 24 days.

Most employers allow employees to carry over PTO time. Thirty-one percent of employers with fewer than 100 employees cap carryover at 20 to 29 days. Sixty-five to 70 percent of large employers cap at either 20 to 29 days or 30 to 50 days, with more at the higher level.

The majority of respondents did not allow personal leave separate from sick and vacation days. Most also offered up to three weeks' vacation, based on years of service; larger organizations offered up to four weeks.

More than 25 percent of those surveyed did not offer sick time; those that do offer one to ten days. More than 40 percent allow sick days to care for a dependent child; one-third or more allow it to care for a parent.

Catherine Moreton Gray is an associate attorney in the Labor and Employment section of Robinson & Cole LLP in Hartford, Conn. She has more than 20 years of experience in human resources and employment law. Contact her at

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