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In terms of PTO: What about January?

julie browder's Profile

We are thinking of changing to a PTO system.  But what about our staff who usually take their vacations early in the year, say February or March?  How do we keep from having lots of staff out in November and December (the busiest time of year here) simply because it took them that long to build up a substantial amount of vacation time?


Topic Expert
Keith Perry
Title: Consulting CFO and Business Operations A..
Company: Growth Accelerator
(Consulting CFO and Business Operations Advisor, Growth Accelerator) |


A little more detail on the PTO system would help; for example, are you doing annual resets at January 1, and then making people accrue new hours before taking them at a "use it or lose it" limit at the end of the year?

Assuming that is the case, I have a couple options for making this work smoothly.
1) Let people go negative. If they take 2 weeks in January then leave, in theory they owe you the money back (not worth chasing). I've never minded having people owe me time...and this is especially important with new hires who have vacation plans when you hire them. Why have the Disney holiday they've been promising their kids for the last year be the reason they won't take the job?
2) Just grant the block of PTO at the re-set point. People get two weeks per year? Then as of Jan 1 grant it. I'd make an exception for new hires (say three months for the grant to vest). In this case if they take all their vacation in Jan and leave...oh, well. The lost time is what it is, and is probably the least of your worries.

Dealing with the Nov/Dec (in light of the two ideas above) is a management issue. Managers in any pto/vacation structure need to own when their people take vacation, and have to balance their staffs and permission to take PTO accordingly. On a related point, if you are implementing a "use it or lose it" system, make it clear to managers that they are responsible for making people *use* it. Exempt employees are less of a big deal here, but you don't want to have a non-exempt employee be able to complain that their boss didn't let them take vacation for three years *to which they were contractually entitled*. You'll lose that argument.

Scott Hales
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Wachs Water Services
(Chief Financial Officer, Wachs Water Services) |

Good points, Keith. Allowing for a negative balance is a feature worth having. Also, to mitigate the problem of seasonal 'rush for the doors' in December in advance of 'expiring' PTO, we converted this year from Jan. 1 to an 'anniversary date' (date of hire) for our use-it-or-lose-it measurement date (i.e., all hours above 40 will be forfeited as of each EE's anniversary date). Save for a couple transition issues for people whose anniversary date was close to the announcement date for the new policy, this went off rather smoothly and now the dates are evenly distributed throughout the year.

Cathy Zibbel
Title: CFO
Company: Icm Registry
(CFO, Icm Registry) |

A note for any company setting up a "use it or lose it" policy. Be sure to check with the individual State laws regarding this issue. Policies must be structured around these mandates.

Topic Expert
Shannon Mathews
Title: Controller
Company: Aldrich Services LLP
(Controller, Aldrich Services LLP) |

I agree with Cathy. CA is a state you can't "take away" PTO. So we have had to cap our accrual. Example once you are at 80 hours over your limit you stop accruing any PTO at all. FYI this works because we accrue PTO monthly and our max rollover is 80 hours.

julie browder
Title: administrative assistant
Company: central christian church
(administrative assistant, central christian church) |

Thanks for the insight; this helps. We had thought keeping January 1 as our anniversary date would be simpler, but the nature of church work is to have lots of overtime in December with dry spells in the summer. Using dates of hire as our anniversary date might alleviate some of our "use it or lose it" issues. Thanks.

Scott Ogan
Title: VP of Operations
Company: MARCOA Publishing
(VP of Operations, MARCOA Publishing) |

Our company gives everyone 40 hours of PTO on Jan 1 and vacation time is accrued throughout the year. We have black out dates by department, depending upon work flow,so we do not have whole departments gone during our busiest times. I definitely agree with Keith that it is up to the managers to be aware of their employees PTO/vacation hours and encouraging people to take it.

Topic Expert
Patrick Dunne
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Milk Source
(Chief Financial Officer, Milk Source) |

Keith stated this well. You have to determine and manage how many hours you can allow people to take off. That is the essence of your question. A PTO or vacation system is still dependant on good management of what time is allowed to be taken

(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

The only thing that I will add to this discussion is whatever you do, make sure the policy is in line with your actions during the transition. Keith's suggestions are great.

Transitions for PTO or Sabbatical can be very difficult on the accounting department because of the tracking issues that arise at the employee level that must be reflected in the liability accounts.

If this is a pure mathematical calculation, the best thing to do is have the payroll or HR system reset at the point that makes the most sense and avoid the transitional accounting reconciliations in spreadsheets that will ensue.

Before you make a decision, pull the controller and the accounting manager into the conversation to find out what they think the biggest impact of the change will be for them. Because this change means adding consulting staff or overtime to handle the reconciliations if you don't choose the best course.


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

We allowed a 12 month transition period for those who had a balance over the new PTO policy carry over cap with "use-it-or-lose-it" condition. At the 6 month mark, we ran reports for each of the performance managers so they could manage the work schedules to allow for the time off. We agreed as business we didn't want to payout the accrued time.

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