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What to do about ‘entitlement’ attitude toward time off?

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in People Management,The HR Specialist Forum

We have a generous paid time off (PTO) policy: There’s no use-it-or-lose-it provision and there’s no limit on how much time off employees can accrue. However, four of our employees continually use up their PTO, often working only nine days out of 10 in a pay period. It’s all within the “letter of the law,” but other employees have started to grumble that these guys aren’t pulling their weight—and we have been very busy lately. Do you have any suggestions about how to break these employees of their “entitlement” attitude? They’re otherwise great employees.—Barbara

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathy June 8, 2010 at 4:33 pm

We instituted a PTO Plan January 2009, moving away from the traditional Vacation and Sick Leave plans. For the most part a PTO plan can be a benefit to both the employee and the employer, if structured correctly. The employee is responsible for managing their PTO time bank and administrative burdens on HR, Payroll etc., are lessened. However an open-ended PTO plans such as the one Barbara described, is too generous and begs for employees to abuse it. We allocate PTO hours based on years of service and cap the number of hours that can accrue. Unused PTO rolls over into the next year, but cannot exceed the total allocated accrual, so an employee with hours on the books in excess of the cap would either have to take PTO time or cash out the excess. For the most part we have not experienced abuse of the program. PTO must be requested in writing and approved, so the impact on current workload, production, etc. can be evaluated.


Elizabeth June 8, 2010 at 4:14 pm

If it is in their employee contract or handbook, then they ARE entitiled to it, as long as they are using it within the guidelines (which you stated they are). Your options are to:
1. Change the guidelines (the general guidelines Peg provided are great)
2. Advise complaining employees that how someone uses their personal PTO is upto them, and that you are monitoring all requests to ensure they comply with company guidelines.

I think the most important issue here is if the work is getting done or not. You state that some employees are complaining that these employees are not pulling their weight, but does someone else have to cover for them when they take a 3 week vacation? If someone is truly not getting their work done, it is a performance management issue. and of course, if you are busy, your PTO guidelines should give you the ability to deny planned usage of PTO. (Unplanned PTO should be counted against an attendance record, with the exception of FMLA or other required leave types.)


Peg June 8, 2010 at 3:50 pm

EXAMPLEP: PTO is earned according to a preestablished forumla per hours worked. Employees are expected to make us of their PTO in a way that will not unreasonably affect the Practice needs. PTO use for planned time off is available for use with at least 14 days advanced written request as long as the manager, in his/her sole discretion, determines that the time off requested will not interfere with practice needs. Practice needs may include team cohesion, work flow, earlier requests for PTO for the same day/s off by another employee. PTO use for unplanned events (such as illness) will be monitored. Unplanned absences in excess of 6 episodes of 4 or more hours each per year will result in counselling and may lead to disciplinary action up to an including termination.


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