Paid time off is an attractive part of a benefits package and can help prevent employee turnover and boost morale. Different types of paid leave allow workers to take days off throughout the year when needed. And this benefit lets them avoid financial hardship due to missed wages.
Offering paid time off in your workplace can also encourage higher engagement and productivity among your staff. While paid time off is not legally required in the United States, it certainly creates a more attractive benefits package for potential candidates.
Handling employee benefits, contracts, and other items can be overwhelming for many entrepreneurs. To be sure you align with legal requirements and labor laws, it’s essential to have the support of an attorney. At Angie Avard Turner Law, LLC, we can help. Reserve your time today to make sure you are on track.
How Different Types of Paid Leave Work for Employees
Benefits packages with generous paid time off (PTO) are more likely to draw top-level talent to your team. Here is a look at some of the most common types of paid leave that companies offer.
Vacation days allow employees to take paid time off to do whatever they please. While the name states ‘vacation,’ the employee does not actually have to take a trip.
Employees on vacation may use it just to take a break from work or create an extra-long weekend. The majority of US employees have at least some paid vacation leave through their employers.
Vacation policies can range drastically between companies and often depend on the length of employment and seniority. The average amount of time offered is ten paid days each year after one year of service.
Be sure your employee handbook and contracts clearly state the company’s vacation policy, including:
Length of employment required to receive vacation days
How far in advance an employee must request the time off
Who needs to approve the dates
Paid sick days are very effective in keeping your workplace healthy and preventing the spread of illnesses that can lead to a reduced workforce. Sick time allows employees to take a day or two off when they feel unwell, physically or mentally.
Sick leave is an attractive part of a benefits package and a wise thing for employers to offer. It allows workers to take the time they need to rest and recuperate without losing pay so that they don’t come to work sick and spread the “germy” love.
While many states do not legally require you to offer paid sick leave, there are some state laws and local legislation. Be sure to check your state’s requirements before adding or leaving out sick leave.
Like vacation pay, personal time off allows employees to take time off to tend to personal or emergency matters. This type of paid leave is useful for medical appointments, caring for an ill child, or anything else that doesn’t constitute vacation or sick time.
Personal time generally does not require advanced notice as vacation time does. But employee handbooks should clarify any rules surrounding personal time off.
Parental or Family Leave
Many companies must legally offer up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off for new parents (whether through the birth of a child or adoption). According to the US Department of Labor, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) applies to employees in the following situations:
Birth of a new child
Placement of newly adopted or fostered child
Caring for an immediate family member with a serious health condition
Requiring medical leave when unable to work due to a health situation
It’s important to note that the FMLA only requires unpaid leave. While some states offer a publicly-funded paid leave option, most US workers do not have access to that opportunity. So paid parental time off is one of the most popular of the different types of paid leave. This benefit helps workers feel valued and see that you as an employer value their family life.
Many businesses offer their employees paid bereavement leave to allow time to grieve, make arrangements, or attend the funeral. Three days is a standard amount in many benefits packages.
It is up to the employer’s discretion to determine which relationships fall under approved bereavement leave. Generally, this list includes:
The US Department of Labor addresses the military’s needs through USERRA (Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act). It ensures that service members who work civilian jobs and are called for military duty may retain their employment for up to five years. This time can be cumulative rather than all at once.
In most cases, military leave is unpaid unless otherwise granted by the employer. If you decide to provide this paid time off, be sure your handbook and contracts are clear about what it covers.
Federal law does not require employers to provide PTO for jury duty. However, some state laws do require it. Be sure to consult with your attorney so that you don’t miss this piece if it applies to your company. If you do not operate in a state that requires paid jury duty, it is an attractive incentive to offer as part of your benefits package.
In addition to the different scenarios on this list, some companies also offer paid days off for federal holidays, volunteer time, and as compensation for additional hours worked (salaried positions).
The Value of Paid Time Off
Many businesses now place everything in one bucket of paid time off so that employees don’t have to track and distinguish the different types of paid leave. Is it worth it to offer all of this time to your workers? It probably is!
Workers consistently report that they highly value paid time off when deciding on a job offer. And many employees prefer additional time off over higher pay. This fact is particularly true among women and those in the 18-44 age range.
Benefits packages with paid leave are more likely to draw qualified candidates to your company and keep employees happy so that you don’t have costly turnover.
Get Your Legal Ducks in a Row
Setting up employee contracts, handbooks, and benefits packages is a significant undertaking. Protect yourself and make sure everything is in legal order with the help of Angie Avard Turner Law, LLC. Our Georgia law firm serves business owners around the US, and we’d love to connect with you, too. You can schedule your time to talk today.