Uncertainty over the COVID-19 pandemic has altered summer vacation plans for many employees.  Not taking paid time off (PTO) as planned may present a challenge for companies, if state law allows, who have a “use it or lose it policy”.

Companies may make the temporary option of allowing employees to carry over current PTO to a new designated date or paying employees for the unused time rather than carrying time over.  Both these options have tax or other implications so contact your professional consultants about these options.

If available, employees may want to delay taking PTO until later in the year. In 2020, Christmas falls on a Friday as well as New Years Day in 2021.  Employees who work a normal Monday through Friday work week could potentially take 4 days of PTO and get 10 consecutive days off during this holiday period.

Employers now must grapple with a larger portion of their workforce wanting to take time off at the same time of the year.  Other employees may not want to use PTO for fear of needing it if they get sick after coming back to work.

The economy is also a factor to take into consideration.  Employers want to conserve cash as the economy continues to sour and do not want to have to compensate employees for unused time or let them carry over days until next year.  In addition, employees do not want to spend money on a vacation for fear of being furloughed or laid off, so they do not want to take their PTO as usual.

Experts caution employers should tread carefully when deciding to change PTO policies. Employees are stressed about current COVID-19 conditions and do not want to deal with any more changes.  Time off is the most valued benefit employees have.

It is important for companies to communicate with their employees about the PTO policies telling them “we don’t want you to lose your time.”  When employees come back to work employers should remind employees of the current policies and any changes going forward.  In addition, employers should communicate policies in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act about time off requests resulting from COVID-19 which provides paid sick leave for those with the illness or caring for someone who is sick.  This clarification may ease employee’s mind about taking PTO.

Finally, having a time and attendance system which can handle any changes in PTO policies is vital to staying in compliance.  In addition, your time and attendance must be able to manage the different pay classes for COVID-19 leave possibilities and be able to communicate how much PTO an employee has available.

Let Time Equipment Company help. We deliver an industry leading Leave Management System which with one click of a button can approve an employee’s leave request, place the time off on their time card for payroll, and add the time off on the schedule.  It also can send email confirmations to the employee and any other person who needs this information.  This is service by our industry leading accrual engine configured with your company’s attendance policy in mind.

For more information on Leave Management, contact Time Equipment Company at (800) 997-8463 or sales@timeequipment.com.