Companies Paying for Unused Time Offs Now Decreasing

August 21, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. time off [tahym awf, of] (n. phrase) – a period in time when a person is not required to work
Example: Her son got very sick so she requested some time off from work.
2. under the weather [uhn-der thuh WETH-er] (idiom) – feeling a little sick
Example: Although he was feeling a bit under the weather, he still went to work.

3. carry over [KAR-ee-oh-ver] (v. phrase) – to hold something for later use (e.g. next month, next year, etc.)
Example: Her unclaimed prizes were carried over to the next month. 

4. compensate [KOM-puh n-seyt] (v.) – to give money as payment for something done
Example: The old man wanted to compensate the teenager for helping him clean the garden.

5. spike [spahyk] (n.) – a sharp or sudden increase in amount or number
Example: The news about the company’s high salary caused a spike in the number of job applications for the year.


Read the text below.

A new survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that companies are now becoming more hesitant to compensate employees for the earned and unused paid time offs (PTOs).

PTO is a collection of reserved hours that an employee can use when a need arises. More than half of the companies nowadays offer PTO's instead of a fixed number of vacation or sick leaves.

In 2010, 18% of the employers allow employees to cash out their unused time offs. In 2012, the rate went down to 13%. With a similar trend, the level fell to 9% this year.

According to the research, this decreasing trend may be due to economic reasons. With a worsening economy, some employers can no longer allot money for the cashing out of the employees’ unused time offs.

The paid time off system lessens the possibility of people calling in sick when they are under the weather. However, the new research says that saving up the PTOs will only work well if the company allows the unused time offs to be carried over the next year. 

With the recent changes in the rules for PTOs, many people are thinking that using the given benefit now is better than saving it for later use.

In fact, teachers in Toronto may have already realized this situation. Records show that a recent spike in teacher absences has occurred after the Canadian government prohibited saving and carrying over of PTOs.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  
Discussion A

·         What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of having PTOs instead of vacation or sick leaves? Please explain your answer.
·         In your opinion, how many paid time offs should a company give to an employee in a year? Why do you think so?

Discussion B

·         Do you think taking vacations from work is important? Why or why not?
·         How important is work-life balance to an employee’s health and personal life?


August 21, 2013