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18 Types of Paid Time Off

by | Jul 4, 2016 | HR

We all want to know what the best paid time off option is for our employees.  Truthfully, the answer is, it depends.  Before considering a time off benefits policy, ask your employees what they want.  The best way to maximize a return on investment for your benefits offering is to let employees tell you what is most meaningful to them.

In order to accommodate the varying needs of different employees, many companies are implementing a generic paid time off program to lump all types of paid leave into one bucket of time off.

For example, if you offer 10 days of vacation, 5 days of sick time, three days for bereavement, and 10 holidays, you could lump all of those together and give employees 20 – 28 paid days off per year that they can use however they want.

This gives employees greater flexibility and makes it easier for managers to track.  Short-term and long-term disability, FMLA, and Military leave must be tracked separately to comply with federal law.

Most are familiar with the common types of paid leave like vacation and sick time, but there are a wide variety of options available.  To give you a few starting ideas, here are some types of paid time off:

1. Vacation Time

A paid, extended period of recreation and fun away from work.

2. Personal Days

A paid day of leave from work for reasons other than illness or vacation, taken at the employee’s discretion.

3. Sick Time

Paid absence from work for medical care, personal illness or injury, or the care of an ill member of the employee’s immediate family.  (May overlap with FMLA, ADA, STD/LTD, Workers Compensation.)

4. Short-Term and Long-Term Disability

Paid leave of absence granted to an employee who is precluded from performing his/her job duties because of a disability, including those related to pregnancy or childbirth. (May overlap with FMLA, ADA, and Workers Compensation.)

5. Holidays

A paid holiday is time off from work for rest and recreation on a publicly recognized holiday.

6. Floating Holidays

A paid holiday selected by the employee.  Can be used for holidays otherwise not recognized by the employer.

7. Sympathy Leave/Bereavement

Paid absence from work granted when a death occurs in an employee’s immediate family.  Immediate family members are the employee’s spouse, parents, parents-in-law, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, grandparents, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, children, and members of the same household.

8. Pet Bereavement

Paid absence from work granted when the death of a pet occurs.

9. Jury Duty

An authorized absence from work that enables employees to complete compulsory jury duty service in an established federal or state court without sustaining a financial loss.

10. Military Leave

An authorized absence from work that enables employees to fulfill military obligations as members of the United States Armed Forces (including National or State Guard).  Military leave under USERRA provides job and other protections under federal law.  Some employers offer a pay supplement plan to offset the difference between the employee’s regular pay and pay offered to the employee for their military service.

11. Comp Time

Compensatory Time is leave time credited to eligible employees who request to receive such time in lieu of cash payment for overtime or holiday work time. (Not all employees will be eligible for Comp Time.  FLSA requires non-exempt employees to be compensated for all time worked, including overtime.)

12. Maternity Leave

Paid leave for a woman who is pregnant or has just given birth.

13. Paternity Leave

Paid leave from work for fathers following the birth of their child.

14. Emergency Child Care Leave

Paid leave granted for situations causing an employee’s inability to report for or continue scheduled work because of emergency child care requirements, such as the unexpected absence of the regular care provider, the unexpected closure of the child’s school, or an unexpected need to pick up the child at school earlier than normal.

15. Community Service

Paid time off to participate in community programs and other non-profit volunteer activities.

16. Study/Sabbatical

Paid professional leave for the purpose of pursuing study/education related to the job.

17. Convention Leave

Paid time off to attend conventions or seminars related to the job.

18. Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault/Stalking Survivors Leave

Paid leave granted to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and/or stalking in order that the employee might obtain medical attention, counseling, relocation, legal assistance and other victims services. (May overlap with FMLA and ADA.)


While it is critical to consider what types of paid leave are most meaningful for your employees, you must also consider what your financial restrictions are.  We may all want to provide ample time off programs for our employees, but may not be able to foot the bill.  It is easier to give it than it is to take it away.

So, plan accordingly for long-term costs.  It is permissible to tie company performance with increased time off benefits.  If the company performs well, a reward can be additional paid time off.

Federal law does not require paid leave.  However, some states do mandate certain types of paid time off.  Please check with your state to determine what your requirements are for paid time off. 


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