Many employers these days have a variety of Paid Time-Off (PTO) options. In most of these cases, they are divided into some combination of vacation, sick, and personal days. If you are lucky enough to be employed by a company that provides you with personal or mental health days then you may be a little confused as to why they are separate. Some companies lump them all together in a bank and expect employees to use the days interchangeably based on availability. Other companies will make strong distinctions in the type of PTO each person has in their reserve, which can make taking a personal day a challenge.
What is a Personal Day?
For companies that make the distinction, a personal day is not technically a vacation day and is not taken when you need to call in because you have the flu. It can be used for doctor’s appointments, moving day, or even a day to sit in a Department of Motor Vehicles office to get your license renewed. Here is a good way to think about it: it is a day that you are not sick, need to be away from work, and are probably not going to be having any fun. How much detail do you need to give your boss though? It is best to keep your reasons honest, short, and to the point.
A fine line
While all PTO days may seem the same to you, the main differences are in how your company interprets them. When you go on vacation, most people will ask you if you enjoyed your trip. The same is not true when they all know you sat in the passport office for 6 hours waiting to get your name changed. Personal days are also not usually planned far in advance like a vacation, but also aren’t normally used in short notice like a sick days. It is a good idea to check your employee handbook before making any plans since many companies have very different ideas on how you should use your PTO.
Use it or Lose it?
What if you don’t have any reason to use a personal day and your company will not let you carry it over to the next year? Do you have to use it somehow? Not necessarily! Ask your boss or human resources to confirm to figure out a solution for your situation.
More and more companies are moving away from the highly structured version of paid days off. The next time you are looking at a job offer, look closely at the prospective company’s PTO policy. If it splits your personal and vacation days, then don’t be shy about asking to renegotiate that part of the offer. You may even be able to spark a change in your new company’s policy.
If your company is looking for benefit education, financial literacy, or help navigating ACA regulations, call a benefits consultant today.