Paid time off or personal time off (PTO) is a policy in some employee handbooks that provides a bank of hours in which the employer pools sick days, vacation days, and personal days that allows employees to use as the need or desire arises. This policy pertains mainly to the United States, where there are no federal legal requirements for a minimum number of paid vacation days (see also the list of statutory minimum employment leave by country). Instead, U.S. companies determine the amount of paid time off that will be allotted to employees, while keeping in mind the payoff in recruiting and retaining employees. In the United States, paid vacation is typically two weeks or less per year for the first few years of employment in addition to roughly 10 paid federal holidays.
Generally PTO hours cover everything from planned vacations to sick days, and are becoming more prevalent in the field of human resource management. Unlike more traditional leave plans, PTO plans don’t distinguish employee absences from personal days, vacation days, or sick days. Upon employment, the company determines how many PTO hours will be allotted per year and a “rollover” policy. Some companies let PTO hours accumulate for only a year, and unused hours disappear at year-end. Some PTO plans may also accommodate unexpected or unforeseeable circumstances such as jury duty, military duty, and bereavement leave. PTO bank plans typically do not include short-term or long-term disability leave, workers compensation, family and medical leave, sabbatical, or community service leave.