24 September 2010

Understanding Time Off From Work

By Elizabeth Hanink

Paid time off refers to time you don’t work but are still paid. Employers calculate this benefit in different ways; generally, accrual of time is gradual and is based on hours worked, length of service and level within the company.

If you work for a company that offers a time bank, the number of days you use for personal business versus vacations daoes not matter. As long as operations can continue with staffing and productivity unaffected, then you can use your time as you wish. Usually, there are requirements for large uses of time at peak seasons. Health care workers, for instance, often have difficulty getting holidays, while retail clerks usually cannot take off the day after Thanksgiving.

Some companies grant specific types of PTO in set amounts: five sick days, two personal days, etc. You can take sick days only when you are sick — some employers even require a doctor’s note if you use too many days in a row. Personal days for the odd emergency are possible, but vacation days must be used as a chunk.

Almost all employers offer a certain number of paid legal holidays, and most grant bereavement leave for close relatives. If you leave an employer, it is quite possible to lose some of the time you have saved. Some companies will roll over time from one year to the next; others require you to cash out at year’s end.

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