For many companies, employee benefits provide their workers with flexible options. After all, what works for one employee might not work for another. In the eyes of most workers, PTO promises a great deal of flexibility. However, workplace PTO policies might require certain rules and restrictions to accommodate workflow and scheduling concerns.
The way you communicate your PTO policies can help you strike a balance between what’s good for workers, and what’s best for your organization.
PTO and Employee Benefits
It’s common for businesses and organizations to have peak hours, during which they need a certain mix of people to be on the clock.
From this standpoint, employers might feel inclined to place restrictions on how workers use PTO, as long as such restrictions do not run afoul of state or local paid leave laws. There are a few things employers should be aware of related to PTO rules:
- Their rules must not discriminate against certain employees or workgroups who are member of a protected class.
- When covered employees have a right to take leave under a federal, state or local law, such as the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employers cannot prohibit eligible employees from taking leave for operational reasons.
When you offer PTO as part of your employee benefits plan, you want to make sure that your workers have the opportunity to use it. Otherwise, the promise of flexibility might fall flat.
Toward this goal, we’ve provided three tips to consider related to communicating and managing your PTO policy.
In a competitive hiring environment, your benefits program can make the difference when it comes to attracting and retaining workers. Do your benefits play a role in your recruitment and retention strategies? BeneTrac can make it easier for workers to get more out of your benefits program. Request a demo, and learn more.
Communicating Your PTO Policy
As part of your benefits strategy, PTO can help you attract and retain employees. Whether you’re adding PTO to your existing benefits program, or trying to improve the way you manage PTO, the following three tips can help your communication efforts. They can also help employees enjoy the flexibility PTO offers, without feeling confined by rules or restrictions.
1. Put Your PTO Policy in Writing
For many employers, this is the essential first step when it comes to managing PTO across your organization. While aspects of your PTO policy will be unique to your organization, a successful PTO policy will do the following:
- Make it easy for employees to understand specific PTO-related provisions. This will help with their planning.
- Provide managers with insight they need in order to approve or deny PTO requests. This will help take the guesswork out of the process, and help them to better ensure they are making consistent, compliant decisions.
2. Spell Out Your PTO Criteria
Your PTO policy should address important criteria, such as:
- How much PTO employees receive
- Eligibility requirements
- Restrictions on when PTO may be taken
- How far in advance they need to submit a PTO request
- What the approval process looks like
- How much PTO they can take during a benefit year
- Whether or not PTO rolls over into the next benefit year
- If your organization has specific periods during which employees cannot take PTO (except in emergency situations, and as long as restrictions do not discriminate or run afoul of applicable employment laws)
3. Encourage and Empower Employees to Use PTO at Certain Times of Year
Regardless of your industry, there are bound to be times of the year when you need key employees on hand. For example:
- In retail, you might need as many employees as possible during peak holiday shopping, or to accommodate other seasonal trends.
- In restaurants and hospitality, you might want workers to avoid taking certain weekends or evenings off, especially when dates coincide with nearby events or conferences.
- In tech, you don’t want a number of key programmers and engineers to be out of the office right when you’re about to launch a major update to an important client’s website or application.
Managing “PTO blackout dates”—days when PTO is restricted—can be tricky. As we mentioned above, restrictions must align with applicable employment laws, and cannot discriminate against employees or workgroups in a protected class.
There are a few ways you can encourage and empower your workforce to be mindful of workflows and schedules before they request to use PTO:
- Some companies offer incentives when employees request PTO during slower times. This can come in the form of bonuses or gift cards.
- Conversely, companies might also offer extra PTO for working during busy stretches, or during a peak season.
When all is said and done, PTO can be an exciting benefit for employees. As with all employee benefits, when you take care of the management side of the equation, you can help your people get the most out of PTO, without causing major workplace disruptions.
When employees are excited about their benefits, it can help inspire a more engaged workforce and workplace atmosphere. BeneTrac is an automated solution that gives companies new tools to help simplify their benefits administration process. Contact a BeneTrac representative for a consultation.