Leave of Absence & PTO

Helping your employees understand all their options when they need time away from work.

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Allowing your employees to take time away from work is essential in helping them maintain a healthy work/life balance. But depending on their situation, they may need help determining what kind of time they need to take. The right communication will help employees understand whether a leave of absence or paid time off is right for their situation.

What’s the difference between a leave of absence and PTO?

A leave of absence allows employees to be away from work for an extended period of time, usually to handle a personal situation like a serious medical condition or the birth of a new child. Leaves can either be paid or unpaid, depending on your company’s leave of absence policies, and they can also be mandatory or voluntary.

PTO is a set number of days employees have available each year to take paid time away from work. While some companies still offer traditional vacation plans and sick days, most are starting to offer a general PTO bank, which allows employees to take time off at their discretion for any reason.

Why is it important to offer leaves of absence and PTO?

Giving your employees the opportunity to take time away from work helps them care for their overall health and wellbeing. We know PTO is an increasingly popular benefit, so it’s no surprise to see employees rate paid vacation as the number 2 most important benefit, right after health care, according to research done by Project: Time Off. Employees want to know they can take personal days away from work when health or family matters conflict with professional duties — and still earn their normal pay.

And for the times when those personal demands last longer than a few days, employees rely on the ability to take extended time away from work through a leave of absence. They should be able to focus their full attention on their personal matters without feeling guilty about being absent from work.

Allowing employees to take PTO or a personal leave of absence not only positively affects your employees, but it’s also beneficial to your company. According to an APA study, 58% of working adults reported that they were more productive following time off, and 55% said their work quality was better. Having the opportunity to refocus and rejuvenate increases an employee’s overall job satisfaction and also helps you retain top talent.

How to communicate leaves of absence and PTO

With all of the complexities around time away from work, the way you communicate these benefits is critical. Knowing which time away option is right for certain situations can be confusing. Laying the information out for your employees in an easy-to-read format will help them understand their options and what might be best for them.

At PartnerComm, we like to break the information out into smaller, more digestible sections.

  1. An overview of each time away option.
  2. Who qualifies for a certain time away?
  3. When time away benefits begin and how long they last.
  4. Specifics about pay and other benefits.

An overview of each time away option

With so many different ways to take time away from work, it can be difficult for an employee to understand which options may apply to them. In the overview of each time away option, be sure to provide enough detail that clearly defines what it’s for and why an employee might take it, but not so much detail that it becomes overwhelming to digest.

Who qualifies for a certain time away?

Does your company offer time away options that are only available to full-time employees as opposed to part-time employees? Are employees required to work for the company for a certain amount of time before they qualify to take time off? This is the kind of information you’ll want to include so employees know what options they’re eligible for.

When the time away benefits begin and how long they last

Different types of leaves and PTO policies have different rules. Include information on waiting periods before benefits begin and if employees are required to use any paid time off, vacation time or sick leave to cover those days. Then get into the details around how long employees can take certain time away and if there are any rules regarding when it can or cannot be taken (such as intermittently or in increments).

Specifics about pay and other benefits

Whether time away is paid or unpaid is what employees really want to know. Be clear when communicating about the kind of compensation employees can expect while they’re absent from work. Make sure employees know if they’ll need to pay for ongoing health care benefits while on an unpaid leave, for example. And if employees stop accruing PTO hours, you’ll want to call that out as well.

A leave of absence and paid time off communication example

PartnerComm was asked to create a Leave of Absence Tool for the employees of a nationally recognized cancer center. The tool lives on the company’s benefits website and asks employees a series of questions to model a leave based on their unique circumstances. The tool then shows them which leave and pay policies apply to them, gives details about when each policy begins and ends, describes the pay and benefits that apply and outlines any return to work policies. The tool was launched in January 2018, and since then, more than 11,000 employees have used it to determine the best leave of absence option for them.

Reach out to an expert today.