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A Comprehensive Look at Paid Time Off (PTO)

Paid time off (PTO) in the workplace may seem like a pretty straightforward topic, but it’s a little more complex than you might think. This is because PTO looks a little different at every company. You’ll find that there are differences in regards to how much paid time off an employee gets, when an employee can take paid time off, and what paid time off really means. 

If you feel like you have more questions than answers when it comes to PTO, don’t get discouraged! We wanted to take this opportunity to give you a little more clarity about the subject. With that said, here’s everything you need to know about paid time off:

What Exactly is Paid Time Off?

Paid time off is an allotted amount of days in which an employee can take off of work. During these days off, it is expected that the employee will still get paid their daily wage. PTO days usually combine vacation days, personal days, and sick days – these days can be used as the employee sees fit. 

How Much Paid Time Off Do Employees Normally Get?

This question is a tricky one to answer considering that the amount of PTO an employee gets varies with each company. Some companies stick to a set amount of days that an employee can take off, while other companies give their employees unlimited paid time off. According to, employees get 11 paid days off each year on average.

What Does Unlimited PTO Entail?

Unlimited paid time off is basically how it sounds – employees get as much time off as they want, but there are some exceptions. This time can be used for vacation days, personal days, or sick days, but unlimited paid time off cannot get in the way of normal business operations or the employee’s work performance. Unlimited PTO is especially great for employees who need to have more flexibility in their work schedules. For example, unlimited PTO may be the perfect solution for a parent who needs to pick up their kids from school everyday, or for someone who volunteers during the week. 

What Is Accrued PTO?

Unlike unlimited paid time off, accrued PTO is earned by an employee. For example, an employee may earn time off after working a certain number of hours, days, weeks, or months. An employee’s accrued paid time off then sits in an invisible “bank”, and that employee can use their accrued time off as they see fit.

What Type of PTO is Most Commonly Used in the Workplace? 

Believe it or not, unlimited PTO is only used by 5% of companies that have 500 employees or more, according to Though unlimited paid time off may not be the most popular option at the moment, a lot of companies are starting to consider switching from accrued paid time off, to unlimited paid time off. 

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