Paid time off could be the next government mandate for employers, giving brokers yet another opportunity to assist clients who need to develop policies. “Recent legislation introduced in the House calls for companies with at least 15 employees to be required to provide each employee a minimum of one hour of earned paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 56 hours a year,” Nick Otto writes for Employee Benefit News.

 

If your clients are looking to add paid time off, they have plenty of options, writes John Patrick Pullen for Entrepreneur.com. They should consider how employees current use existing time off, and calculate time off as a part of a total benefits package. They might consider skipping the differentiation between sick and vacation time, instead giving employees a bank of general paid time off.

 

“The overall benefits package is typically valued between 25 and 40 percent of an employee’s base salary,” Pullen writes, including everything from 401(k) to insurance and more. “This is why PTO plans have risen in popularity — they eliminate the need for employers to document (and budget for) sick vs. vacation days.”

 

Their staff demographics may also help guide how employers offer time off. “Young, single employees appreciate the flexibility of lump-sum PTO plans, while Gen Xers and Baby Boomers — who may have parent-teacher conferences and doctors’ appointments on their calendars — would rather use vacation days for relaxing, not running errands,” Pullen writes.

 

One increasingly popular concept: unlimited time off. “Unlimited vacation is a great way to keep employees fresh and energized,” writes Dane Hurtubise for Employee Benefit Adviser. “Taking smaller breaks can bolster work output and prevent extended stretches that degrade employee happiness.” The idea has plenty of pros and cons, but two solid marks on the positive side include a reduced administrative burden for tracking time off, and using such a policy as a recruiting tool for hiring the best employees.

 

“Only a relatively small number (about 1 percent) of U.S. corporations currently offer unlimited vacation days,” Hurtubise writes. “Another 2 percent of companies within the U.S., according to the Society for Human Resource Management, are considering implementing it within the next year.”

 

Regardless of whether paid time off becomes required for all employers, it might be in their best interest to make changes to encourage employees to take advantage of the paid time off they have. A recent analysis by Oxford Economics found “U.S. companies carried forward $65.6 billion in accrued PTO costs in just the last year,” according to a news release.

 

Encouraging employees to use time off can both mitigate that liability, it can also help avoid employee burnout and bolster the U.S. economy. “Our previous research shows that if Americans took just one more day of vacation, it would amount to a $73 billion boon to the U.S. economy,” according to Oxford Economics.