How much PTO would you keep?

I guess I’m old school, in that sick time is for when you’re, well, sick. If I don’t have to use it, that’s good news. I don’t consider it “lost.”

Then again, I’ve known people who call in sick every other week who clearly are not sick. Perhaps that’s an argument in favor of the combined PTO, as it levels the playing field and nobody has to lie. Still, it leaves people anxious about how much time to leave open just in case, which is the OP’s issue.

My company has a policy where you don’t roll over ANY leave. Whatever you haven’t used by December 31 is gone. Of course in theory, on January 1 you could use up your entire year’s worth of leave. In other words, you don’t accrue it on a monthly basis though it effectively works out that way; if you use it all in January, and quit at the end of June, you owe them 2 weeks (or whatever) back for the unearned leave you took.

I believe that if you don’t use up the prior year’s leave, that reduces what you’d have owed if you leave partway through the year - but have not tested it. It’s a wacko policy in general: people hoard their leave until the end of the year, then everyone disappears the last few weeks of December, and management complains about how billing is too low that month. Well, DUH!!! People would use it more evenly through the year if they knew they could accrue a bit more in the next month.

Now, you CAN get special permission to carry over some time under extraordinary circumstances. I was put on a project that required a lot of overtime the second half of the year. I was permitted to carry over 2 weeks, but I had to use them in the first 3 months of the following year.

For what it’s worth, we don’t have a common sick and vacation pool; our sick leave is relatively generous, actually. When I had surgery a couple years back, I didn’t have to blow any of my vacation time. My husband had to use a week of his vacation time before short term disability kicked in.

We do get paid out for untaken leave if we leave partway through the year - e.g. if I left at the end of September and had not taken any leave, I’d get paid out for 3/4 of my annual leave.

Anyway: back to the OP: I’d definitely try to keep about 2 weeks in reserve because of “life happens” or spontaneous trips or whatever.

Retired, but answering for my wife (just to add a data point). She doesn’t keep any PTO held back, because her company started a new policy this year of covering all Covid-related absences outside of normal PTO hours. If employee or immediate family member contracts it, pay continues uninterrupted without reducing PTO. They’re trying to make sure no one feels compelled to work if possibly infected. I think this is a smart move to keep it from spreading in the workplace. Even though they’re separated in cubicles, they have a mandatory “masks on all the time” rule too.

If only other bureaucracies took the virus this seriously. Sigh…

Hate the idea of combined sick/vacation combined PTO. But then where I work we can accumulate as much sick time as we want and it rolls over. I had about 600 hours, but then my dad got sick and died, then my mom broke her hip twice. I able to use sick time to help them and that has been a godsend.

I know people that have about 2000 hours of sick time saved up. TPTB once tried to knock every one back to like 2 weeks a year and combine it with vacation for just PTO, and the employees managed to kill that idea pretty quickly.

I actually understand the argument for combined sick/vacation into one bucket: you can take time off when you feel like it, without having to provide a doctor’s note or whatever. But yeah, it often means a bad deal for the employee - especially if you work for a company that otherwise would let you accumulate sick leave year over year.

My company doesn’t do that - but their short-term disability is truly amazing (100% pay for up to 6 months, and you don’t have to burn vacation for any of that). Interestingly, evidently we never had a formal sick leave policy - if you needed to take a couple of days, you did, and charged it to the appropriate time code. Presumably if you used too much you might be questioned but I never had more than a day or two here or there. Recently they instituted a policy of something like 7 days a year and if you needed more, talk with your manager - again, separate from short-term disability. That would roll over and accumulate for a couple years’ worth. Not unlimited though.

Federal employees earn 2 weeks sick leave a year which can accumulate forever; the downside with them is that short-term disability doesn’t kick in until 3 months - so if you’re out for a month, OUCH. They found that people approaching retirement got “sick” a lot their last couple years of service so they instituted a policy where your unused sick leave got credited as extra service time, which improved your final pension figures. Dunno if it still works that way, but it worked something like that when I was on a project at OPM a couple decades ago. Feds can also roll over vacation time but there’s a limit - maybe 2 x their annual accrual or something like that.

Same here. I had to read the thread to figure out what they were talking about.

I love my logsplitter!

I earn 5 weeks per year, I think 7 hours per paycheck. We can carry over about 350 hours. Sadly, as a cost cutting measure, accumulation of PTO has ceased until the end of the year for those of us who make over a certain amount of money (like $65K per year). I am not amused. Can someone explain why unused PTO is seen as a financial liability? It’s only on paper.

To answer the OP. I say 2 weeks is a comfortable cushion to have. Any less than that is worrisome.

I get 8 hours annual leave and four hours sick leave every two weeks. I can only carry over 240 hours of AL but sick has no limit. When one retires the sick is added to time worked and any annual leave is paid out.

I max out at 360 hours. I am a hoarder too and about a year ago I attained 350-ish hours in my bank. At that point I enjoyed an extra day off with pay every two weeks with no dip in the bank.

I was prepared to ride that out until retirement, 3-4 years down the road.

Then the COVID hit. I am now down to 260 hours. Things are picking up now, though, and I hope to get back up to 350 as soon as possible.


I have a month and some change saved up. I will probably burn through a couple of weeks of it before September because I will be taking time off to recover from a mastectomy (I’m going to exhaust all of my sick leave first). I also plan to use some of it if I have to do chemo/radiation and it winds up kicking me in the ass (which it probably will). If it really kicks me in the ass, I’ll likely go on short-term disability for the duration of the treatments. But by using my annual leave for the first couple of weeks of treatment, I would be able to work when I felt up to it. When you go on short-term disability, you cannot work at all. Not even to check emails or make phone calls. I want to at least be able to do those things.

Some of my coworkers max out their vacation time and don’t have much to roll over from year to year. I understand where those people are coming from and I could see me doing the same thing if I had a family and a more interesting social life. But as a boring singleton, I’m good with a 2-week vacation during the summer and 1-week break at Christmas, with rando days-off hither and thither throughout the year. And I’m glad I’ve accumulated as much leave as I have. If I didn’t have so much, I’d be hella stressed out right now.

I am limited to having 240 hours “in the bank” at the start of each year, and I earn 208 per year (one of the perks of being a long-term federal civil servant); since I also get every other Friday off (I work 9-hour days Mondays through Thursdays), I have to take pretty much every Friday off from Labor Day through New Year’s Day to burn them all off. This year, since my normal two-week vacation plans fell through, I have already started taking extra Fridays off.

LOL OP asking for advice = siren call for everyone to share their company’s policy.

OP may want to check how protected PTO is in their state. I recall situations where companies can change the policy around and screw you out of time.

Someone suggested checking how disability works. If you can’t afford unpaid time, then you’ll want to be sure you don’t have to take any. Can you go in the hole? Some companies will allow a negative PTO balance.

Does your company offer short term disability? If so, odds are good they require anywhere between 80-160 hours of you not being able to work before your STD kicks in. I would keep enough PTO on hand to cover you in the case of you not being able to work in the event of an illness or an accident. Like you, I am a PTO hoarder and have a little over 400 hours. I was planning to vacation this year but those plans are in the toilet so I’ll be close to 500 at the end of the year.

This is an interesting question, because just last week my boss informed me that my company is moving to “compulsory time off” for all salaried employees. Supposedly if my boss will approve it, I can have it off. The only way I know to keep it fair is to request the same number of days as I previously had awarded to me throughout the year.

My background is this: I’ve been with the company for over 15 years. I currently accrue about 25-30 days a year in vacation time. In my state (Georgia) PTO does not carry over; so I have to use it or lose it. This has resulted in me over the last 5 or more years of taking every Friday off in November and December (and sometimes October) to burn off all my vacation time; in addition to a week at Christmas and Thanksgiving when possible.

I just don’t have a good feeling about how this is going to turn out. Somewhere a bean counter has determined that this will make the company more money.

Depending upon level, we get between 3-5 weeks PTO (one bucket, including sick leave) per year. At the start of the year, one could carry over one week, to be used in the first quarter. - I’ve worked for other companies & never really understood that policy; You can carry time over but must use it during winter. If you’re not a skier or a Caribbean beach bunny; there isn’t nearly an many opportunities to use vacation time in the winter. Nighttime temps are frequently too low to do things like any exterior painting / staining so that even limits the home projects one can do during those months. Most of my time off ends up being towards a travel day to go to one of the many festivals/events I go to during most weekends in the summer/early fall. Most of those have been cxl’d this year & I don’t hold out much hope that the latter ones that are still on the calendar really will happen.

Because of COVID, they changed it to two weeks carryover, to be used in the first six months of 2021. Because I’m working from home full time now, even a statcation doesn’t hold as much appeal anymore; I’m already home waaay more than I’ve ever been. I expect to carry over the max.

Teacher. We get 10 days of PTO a year, with I think 3 that can technically be used as personal time. The rest is supposed to be sick leave. Of course, we get about 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year for vacation.

PTO accumulates indefinitely. However, short term disability (including maternity leave) premiums are not subsidized, so it costs the earth for even terrible coverage. I don’t have it. I think I have 6-8 weeks right now. I blew through a lot when I had a baby. I would not like to dip back below 6 weeks, but as long as I have that, I am pretty comfortable.

One really unfortunate side effect of this system is that people really do horde their days. The nature of teaching is that you can’t really come in a little late or leave a little early or extend lunch a little to make an appointment, be it at a doctor, or a tradesman, or anything. You either have to take a full half day or ask a friend with the right planning period to cover some class. It sucks to give up a half day when you only really need 45 minutes (and you likely come in and work anyway), but it also sucks to impose on someone.

I tend to bite the bullet and get the sub, but their is a long standing culture of hording at all costs. I know people with over 100 days banked who will still ask someone (me) to cover half a class for whatever. I find this really annoying, honestly.

When I retire, I get paid straight up for 300 hours. Last I checked I had over 500 hours of PTO and over 1000 hours of sick leave. Also, when I retire they combine sick leave and PTO hours (less the 300) and pay me for what is remaining. Not dollar for dollar like the 300, but use a formula which comes out to around 50%. Since I get six weeks of PTO and six weeks of sick leave a year, I only accumulate because I have no need to take off that much time.

To answer some the questions here, I can gather as much PTO as I want, and the “elimination period” for short term disability is a week for our insurance provider.

I mention this partly because my manager did a light prod of me again, suggesting I take some PTO before it gets too hairy at the “office.” I’m strongly considering it.

It’s a liability because they are on the hook to pay you for it.

Imagine you earn 10K a month, and have a month’s worth of leave saved up.

You quit tomorrow.

They have to cut you a check for 10K.

If you’ve just gotten a raise (let’s say you earned 9K a month), they might even have to pay you the full 10K vs the 9K it would have been worth had you quit a month earlier.

It’s a big part of why companies have caps on how much leave you may accrue.

My father rarely took vacation. When his company was bought out, all his accumulated leave time was paid out as part of the acquisition. It was something like 6 months of his salary.

As for your leave accrual being stopped - ouch! Better than getting laid off, of course, and I hope they are reasonable about letting people “borrow from next year” or go on leave without pay if needed.