PTO Survey Results - 2017 | Clarus Benefits Group


Although not all employers are legally obligated to provide paid vacation, it has become business practice to do so. To remain competitive, most employers offer at least some amount and type of paid time off (PTO), whether it is with the traditional designations of vacation, sick and personal days, or the catch-all bucket of general PTO. This survey inquired about paid vacation time, sick time, personal days, PTO banks and holidays. A total of 855 respondents completed this survey. The survey results are presented in the following pages. Due to rounding conventions, please note that some percentages may not add up to 100 percent exactly. Similar to previous years’ results, nearly all employers—98 percent—who participated in this survey offer some type of PTO benefits. Generally, the percentage of employers offering various types of PTO and how they manage it has remained fairly consistent the last several years.


Employers from all regions of the United States completed this survey. The overwhelming majority of survey respondents were from organizations employing fewer than 500 employees, and nearly 58 percent employ fewer than 100 employees.+

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PTO benefits are a valuable offering to employees, and 98 percent of employers offer PTO to full-time employees. Although PTO banks have become more popular in recent years, it is still more common for employers to offer traditional time off benefits packages that separate paid vacation, sick time and, in some cases, personal days. Fifty-seven percent of employers currently use these traditional PTO distinctions, which is a slight increase from the 55 percent of employers that used them in 2015.

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Traditional - Vacation Time 

Although the majority of full-time employees enjoy some type of paid time off benefits, only 30 percent of employers offer paid vacation time to part-time employees. For employees who enjoy paid vacation time, length of service is by far the most popular method for how employers scale vacation time (83 percent).

Traditional – Sick Time
For those employers that provide paid time off with traditional distinctions between vacation time and other types of time off, 75 percent offer paid sick time. The majority of employers (85 percent) do not vary the amount of paid sick time given due to full- or part-time employment. Fifty percent of employers initially give one to five days of sick time for a full-time employee. Approximately half of employers allow unused sick time to be carried over to the next year, but only 19 percent will pay out for unused sick time upon termination.

Traditional – Personal Time
Personal time is the least-offered traditional paid time off benefit, with only 41 percent of employers offering personal days. For those that provide personal days, the majority give the same number of days to all employees.

Paid Time Off (PTO)

In order to better manage costs, give employees more flexibility, and attract and retain top talent, a growing number of companies are offering employees PTO banks. A PTO plan combines vacation time, sick time and personal days into a single amount of available paid time off that employees can use at their own discretion. Forty percent of employers offer time off in a PTO system. Of those that offer PTO, 37 percent offer PTO to part-time employees, which is a higher percentage than those that offer the traditional vacation time to part-time employees (30 percent). As with traditional time off packages, PTO is most frequently scaled based on length of service (81 percent) and full- or part-time status (27 percent). 


Americans generally value a flexible, family-friendly workplace when choosing a job. Many employers are restructuring their time off programs in order to meet employee needs and to aid in retention and satisfaction. However, despite an increase in the popularity of PTO programs, the majority of employers still use traditional time off programs, and there are many areas of variance in structuring both types of programs.