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Have you ever seen a company that allows employees to convert unused sick days to vacation days? Would you allow employees to do so?

Matt Treat's Profile


Sara Voight
Title: Controller
Company: Critical Signal Technologies, Inc
(Controller, Critical Signal Technologies, Inc) |

Never formally the way you are stating it here. I have seen companies grant employees 'extra' vacation days to be used in the future (because many of these fall off and don't roll over).

I think it can be dangerous territory to venture into. If you grant one person 'extra' vacation days you have to be ready for this information to become public and need to explain why you would choose not to allow someone else to.

I personally don't like it. Call it old age, but I feel better knowing that I have XX weeks of vacation and an addition bank of days to use during the year for illness (mine or a dependant's). I am not fond of the employee who consults a calendar to make sure they are using everything possibly afforded to them. I have two staff members at my current company who drop in to HR twice a year to make sure they are on top of their PTO and make sure they use it all in time. Neither of them are on anyone's list for promotion.

Topic Expert
Regis Quirin
Title: Director of Finance
Company: Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Finance, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP) |

In my company, non-exempt employees are granted a certain number of vacation days and a certain number of sick days. There is no conversion policy.

But the absence of a policy is irrelevant. Employees look at (vacation days plus sick days) as their total number of vacation days for the year, to be used. Vacation days can be carried over for two months; but the sick days can not be carried over. The result - a rush in December to use sick days and a rush in Jan/Feb to use previous year vacation. It is terribly disruptive.

(Managing Partner) |

The PTO (Paid Time Off, or Personal Time Off) model is a good one - which groups Vacation and Sick days together and let's the EE take the time without having to misrepresent the reason to his/her supervisor.

It also has the benefit of permitting that supervisor (or coworkers) to legitimately ask the EE what the hell they think they are doing if they come to work when they're miserably sick & probably capable of infecting the rest of the people in the office.

We also cap the total PTO potential accrual - so it becomes a use-it-or-lose-it benefit. Result is that EEs who haven't, for whatever reason, taken a block of vacation time, start taking a few days off here and there, so as not to waste the benefit. This lowers pressure on them & benefits the whole work force.

Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

Do they want to convert so they don't lose them? If that's the answer then as proposed above; I would consider changing the policy to PTO that can be used for anything. What I have seen in companies who have both and as Regis points out; they end up taking it off when they aren't sick anyway because no-one wants to lose days.

I don't think there is a right or wrong approach; I think it's all in the goal you want for your employees. We wanted a "rich" package of benefits to stay competitive in the market; so we changed the separation of them to PTO several years ago and it has been the best thing we did.

Topic Expert
Marc Faerber
Title: CFO
Company: Amarantus
(CFO, Amarantus) |

Beware of state and federal labor laws. Vacation balances due are typically owed and enforceable by labor law at the time of termination, sick balances typically are not. If you informally adopt the practice of shifting sick hours to vacation hours you may have significantly increased (depending on magnitude of hours involved) the separation (termination) salary settlement at the time of employee termination, and have informally adopted a practice of PTO and thereby owning both the sick and vacation hours not used to be paid out at termination. Also, if you do this shifting of sick hours to vacation hours you have to do it for all. Once more what may sound simple may be much more involved than first believed.

Roland Allred
Title: Controller
Company: Enpower Corp.
(Controller, Enpower Corp.) |

We don't allow any conversions but at the end of the year we are allowed to cash out our sick time balance. This has actually worked pretty well now for over 10 years.

Didier Jupillat
Title: Director / CFO Advisory
Company: Graphite Financial
(Director / CFO Advisory, Graphite Financial) |

It's funny how we can see in this discussion the hard and inflexible approaches vs. the "softer" ones!
I have been implementing the PTO policy (PTO days that can be used for anything) for more than 10 years, and I do believe it is the most sensible way to do it! It makes everybody feel good about such benefit, promotes honesty (employees don't have to pretend to be sick!), makes the company more competitive for potential hires, and makes the tracking so much easier!
Furthermore, even if it's not an obligation here in FL, we pay out all remaining PTO days to departing employees - so we go all the way and show such benefit as a liability in our Balance Sheet. We also allow employees to carry over their PTO at their anniversary date, but no more than what they earned during that last year: we do want to keep the liability a reasonable amount!


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