How much PTO would you keep?

In these uncertain times, I’m lucky enough to have a good job I can WFH in. My current company is one of those that puts sick and vacation time in one PTO pool. During a discussion with a manager recently, she mentioned that she was surprised at the volume of PTO I had (five weeks). I guess I’m just a “hoarder, just in case” of PTO; I rarely if ever take time to relax for no particular reason. And obviously, I’m not counting on taking any trips any time soon (though even then, the most I would take under normal circumstances is a week for Christmas; the times that require more are special).

So it got me thinking whether I wanted to use an odd day or two to de-stress on a more regular basis. It would help if I had a “bare minimum” I could keep up for holiday travel and illness. What’s a good number for that, in your opinion? (For what it’s worth, I think I’m in a relatively low risk of hospitalization in case of coronavirus, but obviously that’s unknown).

Bare minimum? Two weeks.

Ideally, four weeks. Or as much as they’re willing to let you bank.

Personally my company lets me save 8 weeks of annual leave and another 9 of sick leave.

For me there are two elements to the calculation. The first is how the short-term vs long-term disability insurance works. Often there is a gap between the two that must be covered by PTO. Find out what the gap is and make sure you can cover it, because illness is expensive.

Second element is how much I can bank before they penalize me. Most companies have a limit to the amount of leave that can be carried over from one year to the next. Usually it’s in the realm of 6-8 weeks. After that, when the calendar year turns over that leave just disappears. Not a snowballs chance that I will ever give away my time like that again.

And of course, none of that has any relevance if you need some time off now. Your mental health and well-being are paramount, and taking a break now and then can prevent serious problems later. So don’t forget to just rest sometimes and have fun.

I keep as much as my company allows to roll-over. I try to schedule so I don’t have any wastage - I’m usually within an hour or two one way or the other at the end of the year.

My previous company (which was purchased and absorbed by my current company) didn’t have a specific limit on PTO being banked. I banked a lot - not everything, but I only took a few PTO days each year. That employer did not have any sort of severance package, but would pay out the cash value of any banked PTO if the employee quit with at least two weeks notice or was laid off (not fired for cause). I viewed my banked PTO as a self-insurance package against being laid off.

When my current company took over the old company’s PTO accounts, they seemed shocked that so many employees had so much PTO built up. They wound up buying out the excess PTO from all of us who had more in the bank than the new company normally allowed. So, that was a nice bonus that year.

tl;dr: I’d strongly advise looking at your company’s policies on what happens to accumulated PTO if you quit or are laid off. If they buy it back, keep a bunch in the bank. If you just lose it, don’t keep so much (but balance that against, as others have pointed out, what you might need in case of short term disability.)

Depends on how much you need together, for Christmas or vacations. I always banked enough to carry me over the holiday, and for a decent vacation. But as it worked out I usually accumulated vacation up until just before I hit the cap, where I wouldn’t accumulate any more. Then I took some. It is easier to justify to your management also when not taking some costs you.
Too much accrued vacation is not good for the bottom line of the company, so I’ve had to take it (with everyone else) every so often. That was good, since the emails stopped.
I had enough so that when I retired I got a nice payout for unused vacation time.

My company doesn’t allow us to bank time. When I left my previous company, I left months of unused sick time behind, uncompensated. I keep a week and use it at the end of the year, because if I became seriously ill, after a week my time would switch over to short-term disability. I get 31 days of PTO and used my first 4 days around Memorial Day. Not that I had anything to do, but I figured I might as well start using them. For the rest of the year I should be able to take off a week per month, when worked around holidays.


I can carry over five days of PTO to next year, so start the bidding there. At the moment, I have seven days that I must use by the end of the year.

I wouldn’t advise that you keep more than your current 5 weeks of PTO in hoarding, unless they have some policy that lets you trade it in for something else - or you are saving up for some massive vacation. Any workplace crisis that would require you to burn off more than 5 weeks of PTO at once is a crisis that would probably jeopardize your company’s existence or your job itself.

At my workplace, we aren’t allowed to carry over 2 weeks of PTO from one year into another. I am assuming you can accrue unlimited PTO?

When I last had a PTO type job, nothing could carry over from year to year. But you didn’t lose it, either: if you had any PTO left at the end of December, you got the rest in cash. That was nice.

Everyone got a certain amount at the start of the year, based on their title and longevity. I got about two and a half weeks for “free.” I always bought enough extra (through payroll deduction spread over the year) to give me four weeks for the year. I generally used one week for a vacation, one week for a “staycation,” one week for little mental health days here and there, and one week to save for a nice end-of-year bonus.

I use 4 weeks of vacation per year. I haven’t had a job that gave me more than that ever, so roll over or banking has never been a consideration. My current job give me 4 weeks per year and its use it or lose it. I’ve always been the type to sit down in January and plan out my annual vacations so there never has been any issues in taking my time when I want it since I typically give 6-12 months notice.

At my current job we are no longer allowed to carry any vacation time into the following year. Back when we were, it was just a week that we had to use in the first quarter. But I always carried over my week and used it for my wife’s Feb vacation (school teacher). I got bumped up an extra week of vacation two years ago, and we now have the week between Christmas and New Years as mandatory time off, so I really get 7 weeks a year.

But my PTO includes my sick time, so I always save some until the end of the year. I rarely need it, but I like having it in the bank just in case. I take time off when my wife is on school vacation or summer, so we plan our year in advance. Until this year when our trips have been cancelled. I’ll take a bunch of weekdays off during the summer to go hiking, biking, kayaking with my wife.

In previous jobs I was able to save up to twice our annual leave, so I saved up 8 weeks twice and trekked around Nepal and New Zealand. I’m close enough to retirement now that I’m looking forward to it again.

In my current job at my level, I earn five weeks of PTO annually. (PTO, here at least, is used for holidays, sick time, vacations and random stuff like medical appointments.) We’re allowed to bank up to ten weeks worth, or 400 hours, after which it stops accumulating. Right now, I’m at about eight weeks.

I’m not allowed to carry over more than five days paid holiday from one year to the next, and even that has to be agreed by my boss as the normal level is three. I agreed five days with her a few years ago because my mother usually managed to end up in hospital around xmas time either after a fall or with pneumonia and I kept a few days spare in case I needed to be with her. She passed away earlier this year so I’m back to only being able to bank three days.

This year with the travel restrictions etc, we’re being allowed to carry over 10 days to next year although that means everyone will be looking to use the extra time which will make it harder to keep cover for the office. I keep telling my staff to take a few days off here and there just to be away from “work”.

We were asked or told to take several PTO days between May and June. The idea is that the company has a large amount of debt on the books in the form of the accumulated PTO and with the finances being as awful as they are, they wanted to reduce the burden a little bit.

I get ~5 weeks, and am allowed to keep ~6 weeks at any time; once you’ve banked your annual CTO + 5 days you stop earning it (this year they’re letting us bank an extra 5, so CTO + 10, on account of a lot of travel being canceled).

I try to maintain as close to a “full bank” as possible.

As the business owner, I get zero paid time off. That is one reason why I work regardless of my health.

For me, PTO is Power Take Off.

My employer allows us to accumulate as much PTO – vacation and sick leave, in separate accounts – as we wish, although they do encourage employees to take time when/if they can. I have over 500 hours in my sick leave account. Twenty years ago, I was treated for cancer and ended up using all my PTO. Since then, I keep a big cushion of sick leave, just in case. I have about five weeks of vacation time accrued right now, with plans to use three weeks of it in August for a much-need stay-cation break from work.

I really dislike the idea of a combined sick/vacation pool. Nobody should have to give up their vacation because they were sick earlier in the year, or be left short of sick time because they went on a vacation. It’s not a fair choice to force employees to make.

I think you should check your state’s laws on the matter. You may be able to get supplemental pay if you’re out sick after using all your PTO, and your job will stay safe. If that’s the case, take your vacation time and enjoy it.

I’ve always been the type to take every minute of vacation time that I’ve earned, but hardly any sick time. For me, it makes sense that they’re in separate buckets.

My company maxes our PTO at 6 weeks, and I generally take 2-3 weeks per year, so my balance fluctuates between a min of 3 and a max of 6. I’ve always kept PTO in the bank as “layoff insurance”.

I’m never sick. As I stated before, in a previous job, where we had separate sick time and vacation time, I ended up losing months of pay for sick time not taken.

I get 31 days of PTO. Before my company switched to the combined PTO, it would be 7 sick days, 1 personal day, 23 vacation days. So I’d have built up a bank of over 100 sick days in the years I’ve been there. But if I’m sick for more than 5 days, it automatically flips to STD, at 90% of my pay. I don’t see the benefit of having separate buckets. Even if I was the sickly sort, the time is all still there. I guess if your company doesn’t offer short term disability, you’d want those days just in case.