Benefits and Compensation

Hardest Challenges in Leave Management? Survey Says …

Employee abuse of leave is a problem for 10% and consistent application is an issue for 7%. A lucky 4% have no or very few issues when it comes to managing employee leave.

Survey Highlights

As expected, paid vacation time, separately or as PTO, is available to over 95% of those responding to our survey, while paid sick leave is an option for 85%, and paid personal days are available for 39%. Bereavement leave is offered by 82% and 90% offer 6 or more paid holidays per year. Extended medical leave is offered by 27% and maternity/paternity leave is offered separate from other sick leave by 24%.

Wellness days, floating days, birthdays, casual leave, study leave, volunteer leave, and three days off to get married are just a few of the paid leaves available to our survey participants.


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Below, you will find detailed responses to questions about:

  • Vacation
  • Sick Time
  • Paid Time Off (PTO)
  • Bereavement Leave
  • Military Leave
  • Jury Duty
  • Voting Leave
  • Exempt Employee Deductions
  • Unused Leave Rollover
  • Payout on Termination
  • Donating Leave
  • Demographics of Survey Respondents

A total of 807 organizations participated in this survey, which was conducted in September 2012.

What Types of Paid Leave Do You Offer?

What types of partially or fully PAID leave does your company offer? (Check all that apply.)

Answer Options

Response Percent

Response Count

Vacation, either separately or in combined paid time off (PTO)

97.0%

782

Sick leave, either separately or in combined paid time off (PTO)

85.1%

686

Personal days

39.3%

317

6 or more holidays per year

90.4%

729

Bereavement leave

82.1%

662

Extended leave (paid) for major medical conditions

27.4%

221

Maternity/paternity leave (separate from other sick leave)

23.9%

193

None

0.6%

5

Other (please specify)

14.9%

120

Do you compute vacation and sick leave separately or as combined paid time off (PTO)?

Answer Options

Response Percent

Response Count

Separately

63.3%

508

As PTO

36.0%

289

We do not offer vacation, sick, or any other paid time off

0.7%

6

Vacation

The first year of employment provides 2 weeks of vacation time to both exempt and nonexempt employees for the majority of our survey respondents at 60% and 65% respectively. One week is offered to exempt employees for 20% and to nonexempt employees for 23%. Twenty percent offer more than 2 weeks to exempt employees and 9% offer 3 weeks or more to nonexempt employees.

Five years of employment provides exempt employees with 3 weeks of vacation for 58% of our survey participants and 62% provide nonexempt employees with 3 weeks. Four weeks or more is provided to exempt employees for 17% and to nonexempt employees for 8%. No vacation is provided to exempt employees for 1% of our respondents and 2% provide zero vacation to nonexempt employees.

Ten years of employment brings both exempt and nonexempt employees 4 weeks of vacation for 37% of those who responded to this question in our survey. Five weeks or more is provided to exempt employees for 12% and to nonexempt employees for 7%.

How much vacation time do these employee groups earn with ONE YEAR of service?

Answer Options

1 week

2 weeks

3 weeks

4 weeks or more

None

Response Count

Exempt

19.95%

59.64%

13.38%

6.12%

0.91%

441

Nonexempt

23.47%

64.55%

7.04%

2.35%

2.58%

426

Other (please specify)

66

How much vacation time do these employee groups earn with FIVE YEARS of service?

Answer Options

1 week

2 weeks

3 weeks

4 weeks or more

None

Response Count

Exempt

0.45%

23.87%

57.88%

16.89%

0.90%

444

Nonexempt

1.18%

26.65%

61.79%

8.25%

2.12%

424

Other (please specify)

67

How much vacation time do these employee groups earn with TEN YEARS of service?

Answer Options

1 week

2 weeks

3 weeks

4 weeks

5 weeks or more

None

Response Count

Exempt

0.00%

7.03%

42.63%

37.19%

12.02%

1.13%

441

Nonexempt

0.72%

6.24%

47.00%

36.93%

6.95%

2.16%

417

Other (please specify)

64

How much vacation time do these employee groups earn with FIFTEEN YEARS of service?

Answer Options

1 week

2 weeks

3 weeks

4 weeks

5 weeks or more

None

Response Count

Exempt

0.23%

4.81%

23.80%

49.43%

20.37%

0.23%

437

Nonexempt

0.96%

4.57%

25.24%

50.96%

15.63%

0.96%

416

Other (please specify)

67

Sick time

One half to one day per month is the amount of sick leave accrued by exempt employees for 38% of our respondents who offer this benefit and nonexempt employees accrue the same for 41%. Both employee groups accrue one week or less per year for 24% of survey participants. Exempt employees accrue 2 weeks per year for 14% and nonexempt employees accrue the same for 13%. Three weeks per year is accrued by both exempt and nonexempt employees for 3%. Four weeks is accrued annually by exempt employees for 4% and by 2.5% for nonexempt employees

How much sick leave do these employee groups accrue?

Answer Options

1/2 day per month

1 day per month

1 week or less per year

2 weeks per year

3 weeks per year

4 weeks or more per year

None

Response Count

Exempt

18.04%

20.16%

23.87%

13.53%

3.45%

4.24%

16.71%

377

Nonexempt

20.22%

20.78%

23.55%

12.74%

3.05%

2.49%

17.17%

361

Other (please specify)

135

Paid Time Off (PTO)

The first year of employment provides 2 weeks of PTO to exempt employees for 31% of those who offer this benefit and nonexempt employees receive the same for 32% of our survey respondents. One week is offered to exempt employees for 11% and to nonexempt employees for 15%. Fifty-seven percent offer more than 2 weeks to exempt employees and 50% offer 3 weeks or more to nonexempt employees.

Five years of employment provides exempt employees with 3 weeks of PTO for 33% of our survey participants and 32% provide nonexempt employees with 3 weeks. Four weeks or more is provided to exempt employees for 57% and to nonexempt employees for 54%. No vacation is provided to exempt employees for .5% of our respondents and 2.5% provide zero vacation to nonexempt employees.

Ten years of employment brings 4 weeks of PTO to exempt employees for 38% and the same to nonexempt employees for 39% of those who responded to this question in our survey. Five weeks or more is provided to exempt employees for 44% and to nonexempt employees for 40%.

How much PTO do these employee groups earn with ONE YEAR of service?

Answer Options

1 week

2 weeks

3 weeks

4 weeks or more

None

Response Count

Exempt

11.2%

30.6%

37.9%

19.4%

0.9%

232

Nonexempt

15.1%

31.9%

34.9%

15.1%

3.0%

232

Other (please specify)

43

How much PTO do these employee groups earn with FIVE YEARS of service?

Answer Options

1 week

2 weeks

3 weeks

4 weeks

More than 4 weeks

None

Response Count

Exempt

0.0%

10.2%

32.6%

32.2%

24.6%

0.4%

236

Nonexempt

0.4%

11.6%

31.8%

33.1%

20.6%

2.6%

233

Other (please specify)

37

How much PTO do these employee groups earn with TEN YEARS of service?

Answer Options

1 week

2 weeks

3 weeks

4 weeks

5 weeks

6 weeks or more

None

Response Count

Exempt

0.00%

4.31%

14.7%

37.5%

27.6%

15.5%

0.0%

232

Nonexempt

0.00%

4.85%

14.1%

39.2%

24.7%

14.5%

0.00%

227

Other (please specify)

41

How much PTO do these employee groups earn with TEN YEARS of service?

Answer Options

1 week

2 weeks

3 weeks

4 weeks

5 weeks

6 weeks or more

None

Response Count

Exempt

0.0%

4.3%

14.7%

37.5%

27.6%

15.5%

0.0%

232

Nonexempt

0.0%

4.9%

14.1%

39.2%

24.7%

14.5%

0.0%

227

Other (please specify)

41

Bereavement leave

Time off for the funeral of a spouse, child, or parent is available for 98% of those who offer bereavement leave as a benefit. Brother and sister are included for 96%. Grandparent is included for 87% and grandchild is included for 79%. Stepparent and stepchild are included for 74% and 76% respectively. Mothers-in-law are included for 80% as are fathers-in-law, though brothers- and sisters-in-law are included for 60%. Extended family members are included for 25% and exes and his or her family members are included for 5%. Other covers 13% of responses for an eclectic mix that includes: significant other, domestic partner, legal guardian, close friend, and anyone living with you for more than a year. 

Does your company offer bereavement leave?

Answer Options

Response Percent

Response Count

Yes

90.1%

679

No

9.9%

75

If your company offers bereavement leave, which of the following are included in your definition of family?

Answer Options

Response Percent

Response Count

Spouse

98.4%

676

Child

98.4%

676

Mother/Father

98.1%

674

Brother/Sister

95.8%

658

Grandparent

86.6%

595

Grandchild

78.7%

541

Stepparent

74.2%

510

Stepchild

75.7%

520

Mother-in-Law

79.9%

549

Father-in-Law

80.1%

550

Brother/Sister-in-Law

59.8%

411

Aunt/Uncle/Niece/Nephew/Cousin

25.3%

174

Former Spouse

4.8%

33

Former In-Law

4.5%

31

Other (please specify)

12.8%

88

Military leave

Three percent of those who responded offer full pay in addition to any military pay they receive to employees on military leave. The difference between full pay and military pay is made available by 19% and 1.5% offer partial pay in addition to employees’ military pay. Fifty-three percent offer no pay in addition to pay employees receive from the armed forces.

Does your company offer paid military leave?

Answer Options

Response Percent

Response Count

No

53.4%

403

Yes, we pay the difference between employees’ military pay and their normal pay

19.2%

145

Yes, we pay employees part of their salary less any military pay they receive

1.5%

11

Yes, we pay employees their full salaries in addition to their military pay

3.4%

26

Not sure

12.9%

97

Other (please specify)

9.5%

72

Jury duty

Of those who offer paid time off for jury duty, 46% offer full pay less any jury duty pay employees receive from the court system. Forty-three percent provide full pay in addition to pay received from the court.

Does your company offer paid time off for jury duty?

Answer Options

Response Percent

Response Count

Yes, we’re required to by state law.

25.5%

192

Yes, for a limited time while serving on jury duty

32.0%

241

Yes, for an unlimited time while serving on jury duty

25.4%

191

No

10.8%

81

Not sure

3.3%

25

Other (please specify)

3.1%

23

If you offer paid time off for jury duty, which of the following is your policy?

Answer Options

Response Percent

Response Count

Employees receive their full salary minus jury duty pay

45.9%

310

Employees receive their full salary, and they can keep any jury duty pay

43.0%

290

Employees receive partial pay minus jury duty pay

1.0%

7

Employees receive partial pay, and they can keep any jury duty pay

1.0%

7

Not sure

4.9%

33

Other (please specify)

4.1%

28

Voting leave

State law requires 20% of our survey respondents to provide paid time off for voting and another 13% provide it even though it’s not required by their state. Thirty-two percent allow time off to vote but do not provide paid time off and 29% require employees to vote outside their business hours.  “Other” accounts for the remaining 6% with responses such as:

  • Must use PTO time
  • Election Day is a company paid holiday
  • We offer work schedule flexibility
  • Allow up to one hour to come in late or leave early to vote.
  • No, our state is a vote by mail state, there is no need for time off to be provided
  • Sometimes

Do you offer paid time off for voting?

Answer Options

Response Percent

Response Count

Yes, we’re required to by state law

20.2%

151

Yes, even though it’s not required by state law

12.6%

94

No, employees may have time off but it’s not paid

32.5%

243

No, employees must vote outside business hours

29.0%

217

Other (please specify)

5.6%

42

Exempt Employee Deductions

When asked whether survey participants deduct from exempt employees’ accrued leave to cover partial day absences, 34% do not and for 14% the answer is yes with the amount of time depending on the situation. Twenty-two percent deduct in half-day increments, 10% deduct in hourly increments, 5% deduct half hours, and 11% deduct quarter hours. “Other,” though only 4% of the responses for this question, provided a mixed bag with some interesting responses, including: “paid time off is not accrued, it’s at mgmt discretion,” “if they posted in the time system then yes it is deducted,” and “only when they have exceeded their leave amount.”

For EXEMPT employees, do you deduct from their accrued leave time for partial-day absences?

Answer Options

Response Percent

Response Count

No

34.2%

255

Yes, in 1/4-hour increments

10.7%

80

Yes, in 1/2-hour increments

5.2%

39

Yes, in 1-hour increments

9.9%

74

Yes, in half-day increments

22.4%

167

Yes, the amount varies depending on the situation

13.9%

104

Other (please specify)

3.6%

27

Unused Leave Rollover

Seventy percent of survey respondents allow employees to roll over all or a portion of their unused paid leave time from one year to the next. Use it or lose it is the rule of thumb for 18.4% and, though they can’t roll it over, 4.4% reimburse employees for all or part of their unused paid leave. “Other” at 7% once again provides a few interesting answers, including: “no, they lose it unless they request to be paid for unused leave” and “no, except in California.”  

Can your employees roll over unused paid leave time to the next year?

Answer Options

Response Percent

Response Count

Yes

20.0%

150

Yes, but only a certain amount of leave with some limitations

50.3%

377

No, they must use it or lose it each year

18.4%

138

No, they can’t roll it over, but we will reimburse them for all or part of their unused leave

4.4%

33

Other (please specify)

6.9%

52

Leave Payout at Termination

When asked which types of leave survey respondents pay out to employees when they leave the company, 61% pay for vacation, 8% pay out sick time, 44% pay out any unused PTO, and 7% don’t pay cash for unused paid leave.

Do you allow employees to cash in their accrued/unused paid leave time?

Answer Options

Response Percent

Response Count

No

69.3%

518

Yes, at the end of the year

5.2%

39

Yes, at the end of the year but with limitations

10.7%

80

Other (please specify)

14.7%

110

In general, which types of unused leave do you pay out to employees when they leave the company? (Check all that apply.)

Answer Options

Response Percent

Response Count

All vacation days

44.4%

332

Vacation days with limitations depending on caps, vesting, reason for leaving, etc.

17.1%

128

All sick days

2.7%

20

Sick days with limitations depending on caps, vesting, reason for leaving, etc.

4.7%

35

All PTO days

23.4%

175

PTO days with limitations depending on caps, vesting, reason for leaving, etc.

11.4%

85

None

6.7%

50

Other (please specify)

6.7%

50

Donating leave

While 25% of survey participants allow some degree of leave sharing or donating, no sharing paid leave between employees is the rule for 56% of survey participants. Seventeen percent have never addressed the issue and the remaining 2% have or would consider such a policy.

Do you allow employees to donate paid leave time to other employees?

Answer Options

Response Percent

Response Count

Yes

5.2%

39

Yes, with limitations

12.4%

93

Only on a case-by-case basis

7.2%

54

No

56.1%

420

We haven’t addressed this before

17.1%

128

Other (please specify)

2.0%

15

Accrued Leave Concurrent Requirements

Do you require employees to use accrued paid leave concurrent with FMLA leave?

Answer Options

Response Percent

Response Count

Yes

73.2%

538

No

26.8%

197

Do you require employees to use accrued paid leave concurrent with workers’ compensation leave?

Answer Options

Response Percent

Response Count

Yes

34.5%

253

No

65.5%

480

Demographics of Survey Respondents

Number of Employees. The majority of our survey respondents provide guidance to small or medium size employers with 63% providing HR services to a workforce of 1-250 employees and another 12% providing guidance to 251-500 employees at their organizations.

Participant. HR managers and directors account for 47% of the survey participants who self-identified, other HR professionals make up 26%, and 27% are in other areas with HR responsibilities.

Industries. Over half (67%) of the participants are in service industries; 20% are in agriculture, forestry, construction, manufacturing, or mining; 10% are in wholesale, retail, transportation, or warehousing; and 3% are in real estate, utilities, or “other.”

Organizations. A total of 807 organizations participated in this survey, conducted in September 2012. Of those who identified themselves, 56% are privately owned, 12% are public entities, and 27% are government or nonprofits.

Thanks to all who participated in the survey. Future topics include holidays and health insurance benefits.