Paid Time Off: Managing a Surge of PTO requests after COVID-19

Published On
Jul 19, 2021
Read Time
5 minutes
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Paid Time Off: Managing a Surge of PTO requests after COVID-19

In response to the pandemic, organizations have been modifying their leave allowances, making them more flexible. Studies conducted portray that paid leaves for employees might benefit the businesses in return. When the employees find the time to balance their lives and stay healthy, it reflects on their work.

Since employees missed their paid leaves during the pandemic, there might be several requests together once things improve. Moreover, there has been a demand for paid time off by employees when they get registered for the COVID-19 vaccine and undergo the side effects. It is now being questioned, whether employers would entertain the increased demand for paid leaves even after the pandemic subsides.

In this blog, we discuss how the need for paid time off (PTO) or paid leaves increased due to the onset of the pandemic if they are valid, and how employers can handle the demand in the post-pandemic world.

Why is Paid Time Off Important to Employees?

A PTO policy benefits both employers and employees. PTO can be good for businesses as satisfied employees are more likely to give their best to the work, and it may lead to a reduction in turnovers. It also gives employers the control to look after absences in advance and saves costs. When employees take time off work, they are replaced by others, making the team work as a whole unit and not as separate entities. This helps them value each other.

Paid time off is considered one of the most valuable employee benefits that can be offered by a company. Despite the high-end benefits received in a company, PTO is considered to be mandatory. Employees have the choice to opt for paid time off if they need personal or sick leaves. They get the flexibility of using the leaves whenever they need them. It provides them the autonomy to choose when they want to take a break from work, without having to give any reasons for the leaves.

Paid Time Off and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Given that the employees have to use up their working hours for booking vaccination slots, the number of people getting the vaccination had been decreasing. The U.S. government is providing incentives to employers encouraging their employees to take paid time off to get vaccinated.

The federal government grants tax benefits to employers to encourage them to allow their employees paid leaves to get vaccinated. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) extends these federal tax credits to businesses in the U.S. with less than 500 employees. Federal employees who voluntarily provide paid time off to their employees to get vaccinated may also receive tax benefits.

Unlimited Paid Time Off

Unlimited paid time off policies allows the employees to take an unlimited number of leaves, given that they meet their work demands on time. If the work has been approved by the employer and met their expectations, it frees the employees of any bounds. It should also be ensured that the leaves are coordinated with other employees.

Many firms have been trying to attract high-potential candidates with unlimited time off. Allowing employees to have unlimited paid leaves may turn out to be a disaster for some firms. It requires an environment of trust as there is always a risk of employees taking advantage of the benefit. This makes it important for businesses to lay out clear-cut policies for unlimited paid leaves. Using HR management software to track leaves can ensure that the employees stick to the company norms.

Paid Time Off During the Pandemic

Employers can avoid the increased load of paid time off leaves for several employees by taking some immediate decisions. They may follow any or all of the following policies for the same:

• Mandatory Leaves

Employers can make it mandatory for employees to take time off even when they are working from home. They may assign leaves by dispersing their leaves according to different timelines. The compulsion to take days off may relieve the candidates of their guilt and improve their well-being as well.

• Carry Over Leaves

Employees can also be given the option to carry their unused PTO hours to the next year. This would increase their leaves for the next year, giving them more vacation time later. It may also provide companies more time to work over their employee retention.

Handling Increased Demands for PTO after the Pandemic

It may prove to be a demanding time for companies in the post-pandemic world. According to the senior executive director of Robert Half, Paul McDonald, it may affect their productivity and their current projects.

To handle mass demands for paid time off, Adam Gordon, the co-founder of PTO Genius suggests companies should update their PTO policies. It should be seen that the policies are kept transparent for the employees to understand. They should update the policies based on factors like the number of consecutive days allowed, the number of employees from a team that can avail the leaves at a time, the criteria for granting requests, and so on.

It would help if employers communicate with their workforce, and enquire with them about their plans for vacations in advance. This may allow them to make arrangements in advance, and allot work accordingly.

Employers can also reward their employees for postponing their vacations or planning in accordance with urgent work projects. They could provide incentives to employees who decide to apply for their paid time off when the work demands can be controlled.

Key Takeaways

Attorneys mention that even though the mandate for paid sick leaves under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) ended, businesses may be expected to continue the policy after the pandemic as well. Employers have been attempting to be more inclusive by adding parental care leaves among others into their schedules. HR executives are well aware of the importance of paid time off, especially during the pandemic. It is thus necessary, that the employers and employees work together to find a balance for their work lives.

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