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Tips on Dealing with Large Paid Time Off Balances at Year End Due to COVID-19

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Tips on Dealing with Large Paid Time Off Balances at Year End Due to COVID-19

By The Employer Group - Dec 02, 2020

As at the end of every year, business leaders face the issue of high Paid Time Off (PTO) balances and what to do with that liability. In 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic stopping travel and other plans to be away from the office, PTO balances may even be bigger. This is causing many businesses to have more employees with backed-up PTO balances than they are used to at the end of 2020.

Depending on your Paid Time Off plan, this could result in employees losing a lot of their PTO if there is no yearly rollover, or having employees use up all their PTO in the next month, impacting your operations.

Here are some tips to manage this issue:

  • Review your PTO policy: Would it make sense to add a rollover provision if you don’t have one currently in your policy? Consider adding a rollover provision that allows employees to roll over a certain amount to be used within a certain timeframe in 2021. Or, if you currently have a rollover provision, would it benefit the employees and the operation to allow more carryover into 2021? Employers have the right to change their PTO policies at any time. However, if you are going to change your PTO policy, share the changes in writing, and ask for signed acknowledgement.
  • Institute the use of paid time off during the week: Ask employees to identify one or two days in the next month to use paid time off. This will not only reduce paid time off balances, it splits the workweek and may do wonders to lighten an employee’s workload and stress.
  • Ask employees to work shorter Fridays in December, if your business supports that: Not only does the weekend start earlier, the PTO balance decreases.
  • Make sure your managers are leading by example: If staff see managers taking time off, they may feel more comfortable asking for paid time off. When managers are intentional about their own non-work hours, their employees will follow suit.
  • Remind employees to use their paid time off. Employees may worry about what their bosses would think if they took time off, or who would be picking up their work if they did take off. If you offer permission to use PTO, this may take off the guilt and worry an employee might have.

If you need assistance in reviewing your PTO policy, please contact your HR representative at The Employer Group, or send us a request via or by phone at 800.406.9675.

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