What are Personal Days?

Apart from generating a heated exchange of views about whether Europeans or Americans are more ignorant about one another’s countries, this thread highlighted the contrast in the number of days people can expect to take off work each year in the USA and Europe.

I’ve worked (in London) for a few companies with offices in the USA and have been intrigued by e-mails from the west side of the pond announcing that so-and-so would be out of the office today because he/she is taking a Personal Day. I’ve also seen them mentioned, but not explained, in other threads.

So can anyone give the Straight Dope on these for a European who was to shy to ask? What are Personal Days, how do they differ from any other kind of day’s leave, and how many do you get where you work?

A Personal Day, at least at my workplace, is counted tha same as a Sick Day, but you don’t need to pretend to be sick.

Here, in my typical US corp, we get four personal days each year.

Unlike vacation, they are extra days and are not available at the start of the year. We get one per quarter. Also, whenn leaving, my company doesn’t pay out these days like they would have to if they were vacation days.

It’s time off - a benefit, not an entitlement like vaca - given to employees by the company.

I’ve heard them being called “duvet days”, and like DrF said, they can be used when you wake up and you really can’t be arsed to go to work. I’d have none left after a fortnight.

Also heard (I’m a good listener), if you use all your duvet days then you really do need to take a sicky, it’s hard cheese and you don’t get paid. Tho this would have to be confirmed. The company I worked for in NYC had nothing like this.

Different companies have different policies. But in general:
Vacation days need to be scheduled in advance.
Sick days do not (obviously).
Personal days do not.

In theory, sick days should be used only when the employee is actually sick. If they’re just ‘sick of work’, a personal day should be used.

At our company, non-exempt (hourly) employees get 5 sick/personal days per year. They’re interchangeable, and if you use them all you don’t get paid if you need to take more than 5.

Exempt (salaried) employees don’t get any sick/personal days allocated, but can take as many as needed. I tend to use personal time for my child’s doctor’s appointments and when odd errands come up, like needing to sign loan papers and stuff that can’t be scheduled on weekends. They don’t have to be taken as whole days.

In my company we get two personal days per year. They are intended to be used for things like going to the doctor or mechanic or something, versus vacation which is meant to be, well, vacation. We don’t get sick days, if you are sick you don’t come to work. If you are sick a long time you go on DB (disability).

Also if you leave for any reason then you don’t get to keep your personal days, and they don’t carry over to the next year, like you can with vacation, so the general strategy is to use them first, vacation or no. Actually most people are fairly flexible and no one except for me keeps track of my vacation and personal days anyway, except for the occasional “what have you used up so far” request from our admins, which is reported for tax purposes in some way that is a total mystery.

At my current job we don’t get personal days at all. At my last job we got 3 personal days a year, which were to be used for appointments that couldn’t be scheduled outside of work hours. They weren’t supposed to be used, for example, a haircut because you can make a hair appointment easily outside of normal business hours. They could not be tacked on to the beginning or end of a vacation period, and they had to be scheduled in advance (we couldn’t call up at 8:30 and say, “I’m taking a personal day,” with no explanation.) They were not supposed to be used in full-day increments, only in 1-hour chunks. (You could take more than 1 hour, but not a whole day. If you needed an entire day off, you were supposed to take a vacation day.)

Obviously, people bent the rules as much as possible and generally didn’t get a lot of hassle on it except for the “don’t call in the AM and say you’re taking a personal day” rule.

We didn’t earn or accrue personal days and they didn’t carry over and unused days weren’t paid to us upon termination.

I’m surprised no one has mentioned this.

The original intent for Personal Days was to replace religious holidays. A Christian may want Easter off, a Jew may want Yom Kippur off and so on. Companies were starting to get into trouble if they gave Easter (or rather Good Friday) off but not Yom Kippur or some other religion’s holiday off. This was clearly a nightmare for companies to start dealing since Jews might complain that they have to lose vacation time to celebrate a religious holiday while their Christian counterparts did not. So, companies axed religious holidays that weren’t already a national holiday (such as Christmas) and started giving people Personal Days. Whether you’re Jewish, Muslim, Christian or whatever the company doesn’t give a crap. If a religious holiday is important ot you then take a Personal Day which is NOT the same as your vacation time.

After awhile companies found that Personal Days were a useful creation. As you can see from the posts above companies have come up with all sorts of different uses for Personal Days (such as Personal Days and Sick Days being interchangeable). Still, their use to cover Religious Holidays is/was their original purpose.

A former colleague had a permanent “personal day” for about the last six months. She frequently took off entire fortnights “for personal reasons.”

I am so fking glad she had resigned. I cannot believe why they did not sack her first, she was as lazy as hell with a nasty attitude and no one liked her.

As an employee of a Gub’mental Entity, I get 3 Personal days a year, and I’m given all of them straight away-January 1st rolls around, and I’ve got three brand new days to take off throughout the year. They’re basically meant to be taken as emergencies with no questions asked, unlike sick days where the administrators are fully within their rights to ask for a doctor’s note as verification that you really were sick. As a matter of course, though, they don’t ask for these notes, so personal days are kinda like 3 free sick days. They also have the added benefit of being there all at once, whereas normal sick days only come one per month on the 1st. Originally, we only got 2 PDs a year, but there was a furor over Good Friday being given as a holiday, so the administration took that holiday away and gave us the third PD.

Here is Ireland well every company I’ve worked for including American ones like IBM you only need to provide a sick note after 24 hours absence ( 3 normal work days) off sick.

I also get 3/5 compassionate leave days for funerals etc.

All my time off is in the form of personal days and mandatory holidays, so maybe I am the best person to ask (not that I’d actually be adding anything here, from what I’ve read).

I get two weeks of personal days per year; they are accumulated monthly at a rate of just over 8 hours per month (8*14/12 if you must know). I am free to use these at any time, provided I call in an hour before I am supposed to be at work. This is meant to account for
[ul][li]Assorted days or partial days off for mechanic work, banking, what have you[/li][li]Personal religious holidays[/li][li]Actual vacation time[/li][li]Sickness[/li][li]The “I stayed up too late last night and feel like shit” days[/li][/ul]
In addition to this I have a week (just over a week, usually) between Christmas and New Years, from the 24th until the 1st.

Some people here think we get the shaft by having our sick days and our vacation days combined, but I think that this is the way it should be, because who the hell doesn’t get “sick” to use up their sick days anyway? This way everything is out in the open, no questions asked, no lying necessary, just take a day off when you want one.

I would like more than two weeks a year, though, but hey, I didn’t used to have any, nor any sick days, so no big deal.

Where I work, they call them “personal choice holidays” and the number varies depending on how many real holiday days there are that year. This year we have four. They are essentially the same as vacation days, but you never earn more and they don’t force people of less common religions to technically use vacation for their holidays.

There are no set amount of sick days. If you’re out more than 3 days in a row, you do need a note. They figure that no one gains anything from forcing you to come into work when you’re sick just because you’re out of days.

Where I work, we get 5 personal/sick hours per month. These accrue from year to year and you’re free to use them whenever you like so long as you give a bit of warning from someone higher up and it’s not too inconvenient for you to leave. I’ve personally got about 7 days worth. This is on top of our vacation time (2 weeks, more or less, depending on time with company), which you DO have to give warning for.

This is a fairly generous policy in America and is made up for by having slightly substandard vacation time (I only got the 2 weeks after two or three years here and won’t get more until I reach the 10 year mark).

I’m SO peeved at the system at this company…

They lump all of our vacation time, sick time, and personal days into one set number. As a result, everyone comes in sick if they’re not in a coma, so they don’t lose vacation time- and as a result of THAT, a particular malady will circulate around the office for weeks.

Have a doctor’s appointment that you can’t schedule around our hours? Take a hit on your vacation days. Kid sick? It’s basically vacation time you’ll be using to take care of the sprog.

Needless to say, they make us keep track of every hour. And you can bet we don’t get reciprocately compensated for overtime.

At my previous job, the rule was, “If you’re sick, we don’t want you to come in. If you need to take a personal day, just call and let us know. If you want to take a vacation, just organize it with management around the project. Don’t abuse the rules, and we won’t have to change them.” That was IT. We never missed a milestone, there, and felt treated like adults.

I’m sorry… this ain’t the Pit, is it? :slight_smile:

In my experience, ranging from a state agency in the North to an at-will private company in the South (of the US, that is), “personal days” are days given annually on a use-or-lose basis for the specific purpose of attending to personal business that must be taken care of during normal business hours, other than medical appointments (which are covered by sick leave in most places). If you need to see your lawyer, close on the house you’re buying, appear in court to answer that speeding ticket, or whatever, you have time available for that without taking time off without pay. They are only supposed to be used for such purposes and similar ones (one place I worked gave them out on Jan. 1 and provided that if you hadn’t used them up by December you could use one day for Christmas shopping); and if you don’t use them up, they don’t carry over as cumulative time (unlike vacation and sick days, which normally do).

The origin of personal days is not quite limited to the religious holidays that Whack mentions, although that clearly played a role.

The problem was that companies did not want to administer all the various types of days off – sick days, vacation days, religious days, sick-child days, death of a relative days, etc etc. The variety of categories made administration complicated and useless – I want to take a day off to go the Cubs Game, so I tell my boss that my grandfather died and I’m going to the funeral. Bah.

So the idea of “personal days” was that we (the company) don’t give a damn about your reasons for wanting the time off. Take 'em, we categorize 'em all together as personal days and we save a bundle on administration, tracking, permissions, etc.

Thanks for all these replies. There’s plenty of variety and some of you seem to be getting a pretty raw deal.

For the record, I’m allowed 25 days paid leave each year in addition to public holidays (of which there are nine this year). That’s fairly typical for an office worker in the private sector in London. I’d expect to use some of those days if I needed to wait in for deliveries/plumbers, tending to sick kids etc., but my employer is pretty flexible about that too, so that if you need to get in late you can just make up the time or work from home.

The trouble for me is that if I took my full allocation I’d never get all my work done, and they don’t offer payment in lieu so I won’t be taking all 25 this year.

So there are some compensations for not being in America :).

Where I work, we get 24 vacation days per year and 25 sick days, plus 4 “floating holidays” for things like Passover, Good Friday, etc. All are paid. I think the official holidays that we have (7 days) are also paid. We’re supposed to ask for days off 3 weeks in advance whenever possible. Emergency situations obviously are allowed but if they aren’t medical, they’re expected to be taken as a vacation day. (There’s some rule about having to present a doctor’s note after being sick for so many days but I don’t know the specifics; I’ve never needed one.) Our sick days are used not only for ‘too ill to come to work’ but doctor’s appointments, staying home to take care of sick family, etc.