​For Immediate Release
November 14, 2017


Home for the Holidays? Workplace Trends for Paid Time Off

New Survey Examines Paid Holidays, Vacation and PTO

Brookfield, Wisconsin—Paid time off is a hot topic in the workplace this time of year. Employees have questions about which days the office will be closed, how many vacation days they have left and whether they can carry paid time off into the new year.

The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans report, Paid Leave in the Workplace: 2017 Survey Results examines the common leave practices among employers across the United States.

Holiday Time: Of Employers Offering Paid Holidays, Which Days Are the Most Common?

When it comes to offering paid time off for the holiday season, nearly all employers (99%) that offer paid holiday time offer Thanksgiving as a paid holiday, and 75% include the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Slightly less than half of employers (45%) offer Christmas Eve as a paid holiday, but almost all (99%) offer Christmas Day. For the New Year's holiday, just under one in four (23%) offers New Year's Eve as a paid holiday, and 99% of employers offer New Year's Day. Thirteen percent of employers shut down their office and offer a full week of paid holiday leave between Christmas and New Year's.

Some employees have the option to choose which holidays they observe throughout the year by taking advantage of floating holidays. Just under half of employers (48%) offer floating holidays—most commonly providing one or two days per year.

Vacation and PTO Banks: Rollover or "Use It or Lose It"?

While some employees are rushing to use up their vacation time before the end of the year, the majority of employers allow workers to carry over their paid leave time. Eighty-three percent of employers allow workers to carry over some or all unused days in a paid-time-off (PTO) bank, and when it comes to standalone vacation plans, 74% allow their hourly workers to carry over days, and 77% allow the practice for salaried workers.

If employees want to trade in their unused paid time off for cash, they may be able to do so. About one in seven organizations allows paid vacation sellback (16% for hourly employees and 14% for salaried employees), where employees can sell back their vacation time. About one in five employers offering PTO banks has a sellback policy.

No matter what the policy on unused vacation time, employees will want to be mindful if their organization has any leave blackout policies. Due to situations like seasonal increases in work demands or industry-specific events, 20% of employers have times of the year that they do not allow employees to take vacation time.

Planning Ahead for 2018: Who Gets What, and Can You Buy More?

Employees who are already planning ahead to their vacation time next year may be in for an increase of paid leave if they have reached a new service milestone.

The report found that, on average, PTO plans offer salaried employees 17 days after one year of service, 22 days after five years, 25 days after ten years, and 28 days after 20 years of employment. Like with PTO banks, organizations offering paid vacation increase the number of days with service. Salaried employees on average receive 12 days after one year of service, 16 days after five years, 19 days after 10 years, and 23 days after 20 years of employment.

Under certain circumstances, some employees may be able to purchase additional paid time off. Eight percent of employers offering PTO banks allow employees to buy additional time off, and 6% of employers with vacation plans allow employees to purchase additional paid leave.

About the Report

Paid Leave in the Workplace: 2017 Survey Results surveyed 497 organizations from the databases of the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans and International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists (ISCEBS). The respondents represent corporations and public employers/government entities across the United States.

The report examines all types of paid leave including PTO banks, vacation, sick leave, bereavement leave, parental leave and paid sabbaticals. To view the full report, visit www.ifebp.org/paidleave.


The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans is the premier educational organization dedicated to providing the diverse employee benefits community with objective, solution-oriented education, research and information to ensure the health and financial security of plan beneficiaries worldwide. The Foundation has more than 33,000 multiemployer, corporate and public sector members representing over 25 million lives. For additional information, visit www.ifebp.org.