How to prevent employees from abusing PTO leave — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
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A reader of our e-mail newsletter, HR Weekly, recently posed this question to the e-letter’s Forum section: “We allow employees to take paid time off (PTO) in hourly increments, but they often use PTO when running late in the morning or for unexpected ‘appointments.’ How can we get a rein on our PTO leave?”

Following are some of the readers’ responses: (To sign up for HR Weekly, visit

1. Require one week’s notice.

“We just changed our PTO policy. Employees are required to give a minimum of one week’s notice for PTO. There are emergencies, but this will help curtail that.” — Rebecca, Arizona

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2. Full-day leave, not hours.

“We do not let employees take an hour of PTO. They either take the whole day or a half day as PTO. Leaving an hour early here and there is something that they work out with their managers.”

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3. Link with an absentee plan.

“We have a PTO plan, but also an absenteeism plan. PTO must be scheduled in advance. If it’s not, then each occurrence is counted either as tardy or, if the person is gone the full day, as an unscheduled absence. Employees are allowed a certain number of unscheduled absences until there are consequences (in our case, we suspend accruals) or separation!” — Sheila K.

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4. Apply progressive discipline.

“Our handbook states that employees have to call in at least one hour before their regular shift begins, and they
are required to schedule time off (in advance when possible) so that management can plan the day/production/ output. When they run out of PTO, the employees who abuse the policy are subject to progressive disciplinary procedures, up to and including termination.” — Phillis, Texas

* * *

5. Changing benefit year didn’t help.

“We changed our ‘benefit year’ ending on Dec. 31 to June 30 because we were experiencing too many absences around the winter holiday that hurt our productivity (we are a service-oriented company). But the same thing happened in June, which caused our billing to fall behind. We also have a ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ policy and employees are only able to carry over a maximum of 40 hours to the new benefit year.” — Liz, Virginia

Free white paper: Solve Your Absentee Problem. To learn practical steps to reduce employee absenteeism, access our free white paper, How to Solve Your Absentee Problem, at

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