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Let’s talk about PTO and remote working. Telecommuting continues to increase every year. How do you handle leave for remote workers?

Follow these guidelines. Make your leave policy work for all of your employees—regardless of where they park their keyboard.

First, let’s clarify what we’re talking about.

How is PTO (Paid Time Off) Different Than Traditional Leave?

Traditional leave categorizes the type of absence. This includes sick days, personal days, and vacation. It’s more complicated for employers to administer traditional leave.

PTO refers to paid leave that isn’t categorized. Many companies have adopted the PTO model.

How to Handle PTO For Remote Workers

  1. Create and document your policy
  2. Communicate your policy
  3. Use PTO tracking software
  4. Apply the policy consistently

1. Create Your Policy

First, create your PTO policy. This SwipeClock article gives detailed guidance: How To Create a PTO Policy For Your Business.

You will have to address the following:

  • How much PTO should I provide?
  • How much PTO do my competitors provide?
  • Does earned PTO roll over from year to year?
  • Does PTO increase with tenure?
  • Do you give a set amount at the first of the year? or
  • Do employees accrue PTO throughout the year?
  • How do employees request PTO?
  • What are employees required to do so their work is covered while they are gone?
  • How will I make sure PTO doesn’t affect FMLA compliance?

2. Communicate Your Policy

Include your policy in your employee handbook. Require every employee to read it. Your HR team and payroll provider must understand the policy so they can administer it.

Require each employee to sign an agreement. They acknowledge that they understand the policy and pledge to abide by it. Basically, they are promising not to abuse it. This is important for enforcement and legal compliance. If you fire an employee because they abuse your policy, you want documentation.

Make sure your employees can access your employee handbook at any time. Employee self-service portals are the easiest way to handle this. They can check the policy from the HR dashboard. A mobile app is even more convenient.

3. Use a Good PTO Tracking System

Automated timekeeping with PTO tracking is a must. Especially if PTO increases with tenure. Calculating it with spreadsheets is difficult.

Many small businesses turn to Excel spreadsheets for PTO. Managers enter attendance data into spreadsheets. Then they run formulas based on the policy.

4. Apply The Policy Consistently

Make sure managers understand that they have to approve requests equally. If you discover that a manager is playing favorites, take appropriate action. Other employees will notice. And it won’t be pretty.

What Happens if PTO is Mishandled?

Any type of payroll mistake costs money. Errors can cost the company in extra paid time off. Time used by HR and the employee to correct problems adds up.

Employees lose trust. Your team expects accurate PTO tracking. Morale plummets if there are problems. If employees aren’t happy, it affects their work. It could affect the way they treat your clients.

PTO tracker software automates the process. Automation ensures that you are calculating leave accurately. Cloud-based management tools are easy to use. They are cheaper than ever. There are systems designed for businesses of every size and shape.

How Does PTO Tracking Software Work?

PTO trackers sync with time and attendance. You customize the settings according to your policy. As employees clock in and clock out, work time accumulates. The system calculates PTO based on recorded time.

PTO tracking systems ensure that all employees are treated the same. It centralizes PTO information for administrators. It provides a formal way for employees to request time off. And employees can check their accruals at any time.

Let’s recap the benefits of automated PTO tracking:

  1. It ensures equitable PTO for all employees
  2. It provides a formal way for employees to request time off
  3. It helps managers keep track of employee vacations
  4. PTO synced with scheduling helps you avoid shift coverage gaps
  5. Employees can check their PTO balance without calling HR

PTO tracking syncs with a time and attendance system. A timekeeping system creates accountability. All employees—salaried or hourly—should track their hours. This is not because you don’t trust them. You can’t have a remote work policy in the first place if you don’t trust them.

PTO software will help you administer a valued benefit. Your remote workers and in-office workers can count on receiving the paid leave they have earned. Your managers will have an easy way to track time off requests. Your HR team won’t have to mess with spreadsheets. Everybody wins.

By Liz Strikwerda

Liz Strikwerda