Every worker deserves time off, and paid time off (PTO) is one of those perks many companies choose to offer. Reviewing and approving paid time off used to be overwhelming, but with modern tools in place, managers can now focus on more important things.

Similar to traditional leave, with paid time off, employees get paid when taking personal time off, vacation days, sick leave, time off during federal holidays, and parental leave. The only difference with PTO is that employees don’t have to give a reason for taking paid leave.

How much PTO should you offer?

Since paid time off isn’t federally required, you’re probably wondering how much time off should your company offer. Short answer – it’s totally up to you, but in this competitive work environment, providing PTO will contribute to happier, more productive employees.

Statistically, US businesses offer an average of 10 days of PTO per year, while European workers are guaranteed between 20 to 30 paid days off – that’s a whole month off! 

Before you get all envious, you should learn that modern businesses have recently embraced the concept of unlimited PTO, provided that employees still get their work done. It works great for young workers who value their autonomy and flexibility, although many of them end up taking less time off than the average.

How to effectively manage PTO requests

Leave management can become very complicated, especially if you have to handle a high number of employees. Many companies still log PTO requests manually inside a spreadsheet, which makes for an inefficient and expensive process.

If you’re an HR manager in the digital era, you’re probably balancing different types of employees – remote or on-site, salaried, hourly, or part-time. Logging mistakes when managing PTO could lead to unfair payment and open up your company to potential lawsuits.

This is why you need to run a tight ship and have great systems in place. The best way to do this is to establish ground rules and use modern time tracking tools that allow for seamless PTO management.

Define the rules in your employee handbook

Creating a standard policy on taking paid time off is the best way to go, especially if you have many employees and they all come to you with their individual problems and requests.

Inevitably, leave requests will overlap during times like winter holidays, and you’ll be the one prioritizing which employee gets time off. So how do you make that decision?

A few popular policies you could have in place are:

  • First come, first served. This type of policy takes out a lot of the guesswork and makes sure all workers are fairly treated.
  • Seniority-based. Time off is granted according to the employee’s “rank,” although, because of their vital experience, taking time off is not always feasible.
  • Reasons for making the request. Personal reasons such as sickness, burnout, parental leave, or family issues should be discussed and, if possible, prioritized.
  • Flexibility of the request. When completing the PTO request form, employees should mention whether their vacation dates are flexible or not.
  • Taking time off too often. You should set rules to prevent employees from requesting time off too frequently or during times when it impacts productivity.

Your employees may have personal issues, or they may be prone to burnout, and as a manager, you have the final say in allowing them to take paid time off.

But keep in mind that favoritism can get the best of you at times, so use your better judgment and adhere to company guidelines when managing your workers’ paid leave.

Use a tool that easily tracks time off

Time tracking has come a long way. Modern time tracking tools are now indispensable for efficient project management – everything gets logged, and time off is no exception.

PTO on different platforms
PTO on different platforms in the PK4 TimeTracker

Our leading time tracking tool for Salesforce, Time Tracker, is built to easily manage PTO days. Inside Time Tracker, the PTO Current Status displays Total DaysAvailable Days, and Pending Approval Days.

Users can log their desired PTO days by selecting the PTO type (personal, vacation, sick, other, etc.), the start date and end date of their leave, and send it for approval.

Managers can edit total PTO days for their employees and approve or reject requests. The available days get automatically updated as employees use their time off.

This entire process is organized within a simple interface, where you can have a bird’ eye view of your workers’ activity.

Needless to say that this automatic system of vacation management takes a lot of pressure off of HR managers.

There’s no more back and forth communication – all the information is out in the open, and employees can feel confident that they get fair treatment when it comes to their earned paid time off.

As a professional, you can’t run your business arbitrarily. Having a set number of PTO days, establishing a universal policy, and tracking hours, including time off, are all essential to your company’s productivity and your employees’ wellbeing.