Considering Time Off in Your Employee Benefits Package

By Katherine Muniz
September 23, 2016

Aside from salary, one of the biggest deciding factors employees considers when choosing between job offers comes down to benefits. It’s human nature to negotiate for the most attractive package available, and let’s face it — other than money, benefits talks. The prospect of stability that goes beyond the take-home-pay is the ultimate goal for most professionals. ¬†

Arguably the¬†most accessible¬†and cost-friendly benefit that any employer can provide is time off, one of the core “givens” in a benefits package. While health plans require planning, time, and money, time off policies cost relatively little. What’s more, countless studies and articles have been written about time off as the secret to productivity.

“There is a lot of research that says we have a limited pool of cognitive resources,” says Allison Gabriel, an Assistant Professor of Management at Virginia Commonwealth University who studies job demands and employee motivation. “When you are constantly draining your resources, you are not being as productive as you can be. If you get depleted, we see performance decline. You’re able to persist less and have trouble solving tasks.”

The importance of break

Hard workers are often celebrated for their commitment to their job, burning the midnight oil and logging countless hours with few breaks. After all, fledgling businesses are built on the backs of those who are dedicated and devoted to their position.

However, without a break, employees and employers with that mindset often experience¬†burnout, which hinders productivity and depletes them¬†of their energy over time.¬† If you’re a small business owner thinking about your own time off policy, here are¬†some things to consider:¬†

Paid Holidays

As we’ve written in a previous article all about holiday pay, America has zero legally mandated paid holidays. That’s right, even Thanksgiving and Christmas are fair game for being called into work. However, it’s customary to give employees paid holidays off (though one study reports that 23 percent of Americans get no¬†paid holidays or paid vacation time).

FingerCheck’s¬†System Holiday List contains the following ten federal holidays, which employers can quickly add to their holiday policy should they choose to give those days off:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Martin Luther King Day¬†
  • Presidents Day¬†
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veterans’ Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas Day¬†

Sick/Vacation/Personal/Bereavement/Religious Observances

Did you notice that we grouped essentially every other form of time off together in this section? That’s because more and more, organizations are adopting the practice of providing employees with a general PTO bank that they can deduct hours from when they need time off. Whether it be a vacation, sick, personal leave, or the observance of religious holidays, a general PTO bank provides a catch-all for everyone and requires zero explanation.


It’s important that you communicate how you would like your employees to request time off. Is a verbal request acceptable, or would you prefer a written request be submitted? You may want to have a paper trail and documentation for the purposes of keeping clear records. Whatever you decide, make sure you outline to your employees the protocol they need to follow when requesting time off.¬†


Deciding how many days of time off you provide is a matter that differs for every business owner, and will depend on your business’s demands and circumstances.

As a reference point, a 2013 sampling done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics averaged that a full-timer working for over a year received on average, 8.1 vacation days. After 25 years on the job, that number goes up to 15.7. To gather a better idea of what the norm is, consider doing a little research or asking other employers how they weigh the process. 

Ultimately, time off is a benefit that isn’t required at all. In fact, in the early days of your business, it might not even be an option. However, once your company begins to expand, it is a consideration you will have to make as you add more employees.¬†

If your goal is to build a business that is competitive, attractive to talented professionals, and becomes known for its leadership and company culture, benefits is a great place to start. 

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