Paid Time Off and Paid Parental Leave Trends

Aug 28, 2019
| Michael Altiero

To make themselves stand out to job seekers, many employers large and small have revamped their employee benefit packages and workplace perks. With the talent market more competitive than ever, enhancing benefits and perks has become a necessity.

One area in particular that many businesses have chosen to address is their paid time off (PTO) policies. Employers hope that enhancing and marketing their PTO programs will help attract in-demand talent while also helping to boost retention of current workers.

A recent study from WorldatWork surveyed 532 U.S. large company managers and directors to see how PTO has changed in recent years as well as new trends that are emerging with this important employee perk.

Traditional Paid Time Off vs. PTO Bank

WorldatWork’s 2019 PTO/Paid Parental Leave Programs & Practice Survey was released in mid-July and explored a wide variety of factors around PTO programs.

To start, the survey provided definitions around two different types of PTO programs that were studied in the report:
  • Traditional Paid Time Off Program – When employees are given a set number of days in separate time off categories such as vacation, personal, sick, etc.
  • PTO Bank Program – When all types of paid time off (vacation, sick, personal, etc.) are combined into one category of available days off.

First, the survey showed that 52% of organizations offer traditional PTO programs, while 41% offer some type of PTO bank program.

However, the use of traditional programs has been on the decline since 2002 and PTO bank offerings have seen a substantial increase.

It was also shown that 37% of workers do not use all of their PTO each year, regardless of the program that is offered.

And another interesting result is that employers are actively marketing their PTO programs to job seekers. 68% of companies with a PTO bank and 61% with a traditional program say they use them in their recruitment marketing strategies.

Trends in PTO Programs

The next area of the survey took a look at trends impacting both types of PTO programs.

It was shown that 51% of employers who use a PTO bank program have a separate parental leave program. This number is less for traditional PTO programs, but has almost doubled since 2016.

For PTO bank programs, 63% of organizations make them eligible for employees to use on the date of hire, compared to 18% that begin after 90 days (the second highest percentage).

And for traditional programs, 76% of companies that use them say they aren’t thinking about changing to a PTO bank system.

Paid Parental Leave

Another section of the WorldatWork survey explored paid parental leave offerings provided by employers. First, it was revealed that 86% of organizations offer short-term disability to birth mothers that is separate from PTO and paid parental leave programs.

52% of organizations offer some type of paid parental leave program, with 42% of them providing these benefits to all new parents.

It was also shown that 78% of employees receive their normal salary for the entire time they are on parental leave.

And much like PTO, employers are marketing their paid parental leave programs in order to attract top talent to their company (60%).

Benefits, PTO, Parental Leave, and Other Perks Help Attract and Retain Talent

Given the extremely competitive nature of today’s job market, more and more employers are adding to and improving their benefits and perks packages to appeal to job seekers.

PTO and parental leave programs are two of the most sought after perks that employees want, meaning employers (including small businesses) need to explore ways to enhance their offerings in order to compete with larger companies for the same talent.

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