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Q&A Forum

Paid Time Off Best Practices

pto best practicesSpecifically, what is the typical vacation schedule for new hires and for mid-career hires? Do any companies offer a greater schedule for the mid-career hires who are new to the company?


Topic Expert
Joan Varrone
Title: CFO
Company: Cloud Cruiser
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, Cloud Cruiser) |

I have only seen an exclusion from the new hire vacation for a very senior executive but not for rank and file. I know that a trend I am seeing is unlimited vacation which alleviates tracking and payout upon termination. However to be successful you need responsible employees and managers to make sure that it does not get out of hand.

Andrea Bornschlegel
Title: Fractional CFO/Controller
Company: Financial Consultant
(Fractional CFO/Controller, Financial Consultant) |

I have never heard of offering a vacation schedule (official, accrued vacation) which varies based on career stage rather than simply tenure with the company. Common unofficial arrangements include leniency in requiring PTO forms for days off, or extra vacation time off-book. The latter is particularly common for vacation already scheduled at the time of the employment offer, so the new employee doesn't start off in a negative-vacation-balance hole.

Much less common is extra time off documented in an offer letter so that a change in management doesn't change the arrangement. If you go this route, also document that it is not officially accrued, time not taken will not be paid out upon termination, and the employee needs to take all accrued PTO before using the extra unaccrued PTO.

Jim Holloway
Title: CFO
Company: Contract Lumber, Inc.
(CFO, Contract Lumber, Inc.) |

In my experience it has been fairly common to offer two weeks of vacation after completing six months of service when hiring a more seasoned candidate (i.e.- non entry level), but this is always documented in the offer letter and the employees file. For senior level hires it is 4 weeks after six months or one year. It is my belief that this is a good benefit to a new hire that many companies seem hesitant to offer, but it greatly appreciated and the goal is to hire a motivated employee. I personally have always negotiated 4 weeks vacation when changing jobs (and someday I will actually take 4 weeks off in a year).

Topic Expert
Linda Wright
Title: Consultant
Company: Wright Consulting
(Consultant, Wright Consulting) |

At my last multi-national corporate job, officers (AVP and above) were given 1.5x the normal vacation accrual and could "borrow" from the annual allotment of days in the first six months. Staff were given at least two weeks per year of service, escalating to three weeks after five years and continued increasing benefit up to 30 years of service.

Topic Expert
Malak Kazan
Title: VP, Special Projects
Company: ERI Economic Research Institute
(VP, Special Projects, ERI Economic Research Institute) |

unexpected events happen in life and general "wait periods" before taking accrued time can result in exception processing and not a positive "message" in employer branding; if you allow for exceptions to company policy make sure there is no unintended bias impacting any of the protected groups; work life balance is key and accommodating some employees wanting more personal time and potentially less pay be positive to attracting talent.

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

We offer 4 days of PTO after 90-days of hire and then 15 days after 1 year with one day added each year thereafter. No accrual and use it or lose it policy. I think it's pretty generous especially since we also get 9 Holiday days in addition.


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