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HR-421 Paid Time Off (PTO) Q&As


1. What is the maximum available PTO balance an employee may retain at any time? 
Employees may have a maximum of two times their annual accrual. For example, employees earning 144 hours per year can carry a maximum of 288 hours of unused accrued PTO. Once an employee reaches their maximum, new accruals cease and only begin once the balance drops below the maximum.

The following chart shows the maximum PTO available based on 100% FTE. Hours are prorated for employees working less than 100%.

Type of Position Years of Service Per Year Hours per Week Hours per Pay Period Max Hours Balance
Hourly, Non-exempt Up to five years 18 days 2.77 hours 5.54 hours 288 hours
Five up to 15 years 23 days 3.54 hours 7.08 hours 368 hours
Over 15 years 28 days 4.31 hours 8.62 hours 448 hours
Monthly, exempt Up to five years 23 days 3.54 hours Based on the # of Mondays in the month 368 hours
Five years and over 28 days 4.31 hours 448 hours

2. If a benefit-eligible academic employee transfers to an administrative, service and support staff position, are the years of service in the academic position considered when determining the accrual rate? 
The years in a benefit-eligible academic appointment count toward years of service in determining the rate of PTO accrual, so long as there was no break in benefit-eligible service. The most recent benefit-eligible date will determine the years of service for PTO accrual purposes.

Using PTO

3. May employees who are in their initial six-month probationary period use PTO? 

4. Can PTO be used in any increments, such as partial days? 
Yes. PTO may be used in any increments as approved by the employee’s supervisor.

5. May PTO be used when an employee takes time off due to a cold or exposure to a virus or when directed by a healthcare provider to remain away from work? 
Yes. Employees should use PTO for planned time off and approved incidental illness. For example, employees who believe they may be contagious shall follow department-established guidelines for attendance, requesting approval for time off, and using PTO.

Leave without pay may be approved if all available leave is exhausted. If an employee is off for over three (3) workdays, the department should consult Human Resources about FMLA qualifications. See HR-407.

6. If an employee is off due to Workers’ Compensation or approved for Short-Term Disability, is PTO available to supplement pay? 
Yes. Employees approved for Workers’ Compensation or Short-Term Disability may use accrued PTO to "top off" the remaining compensation that Workers’ Compensation or Short-Term Disability does not pay.

7. Can a supervisor deny requests to take time off using PTO? 
Supervisors have the responsibility of approving or denying requests for time off. PTO may be denied for unapproved absences.

8. Can a supervisor deny the use of PTO for unapproved absences? 
Yes. Supervisors have the responsibility for managing employee performance and productivity as well as maintaining overall departmental operations. In addition to managing individual employee requests for time off, supervisors may need to schedule coverage well in advance of each week’s activities which occur during and outside of regular business hours. It may be necessary to designate periods where requests for time off would be denied or where flexing the workweek would depend on several factors including the impact on overall continuance of operations, timing of absences during a workweek, etc. For this reason, the use of accrued PTO may be denied for unapproved absences.


9. What leave is available if an employee does not have PTO available and needs time off?
If applicable and available, employees may consider the following:

  • Compensatory time off (for non-exempt employees)
  • Personal, sick, or vacation balances
  • Unpaid time off

With supervisory approval, employees may also make up the time missed within the work week.

10. How is a lump-sum PTO payout calculated? 
Payment for a non-exempt (hourly) employee's PTO, not to exceed 80 hours (based on 1.0FTE), is calculated based on the hourly rate of pay in the position held at the time of the action that triggered the payout (e.g., change to a position not eligible for PTO or separation of employment), plus applicable shift differential pursuant to HR-213 if the employee is normally scheduled to work an eligible shift. 

Payment for an exempt (salaried) employee's PTO, not to exceed 80 hours (based on 1.0FTE), is calculated based on the equivalent hourly rate of pay in the position held before the action that triggered the payout. For example, an annual salary of $60,000 is equivalent to $28.84/hour ($60,000 divided by 2080 hours per year).

Date Effective: Posted 10-01-2023 with an effective date of 01-01-2024
Date Revised: 02/09/2024

Reviewed 2024-02-09