A third (34 per cent) of U.S. employers offer a paid-time-off program to employees instead of separate banks for vacation, personal leave and sick time, according to new research by the International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans.

The survey, which gathered insight from nearly 500 employers in the U.S., found employers are offering these types of plans to provide greater flexibility for employees (76 per cent), to empower employees (41 per cent) and to control unscheduled absences (32 per cent).

Read: Is it a sick day or a vacation day? With paid time off, it doesn’t matter

The research also looked into the prevalance of leave donation programs, which can build camaraderie among co-workers, according to Julie Stich, associate vice-president of content at the International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plans. Less than a third (30 per cent) of respondents allow employees to donate paid vacation days and 22 per cent allow workers to donate sick leave. Among respondents that offer paid time off to employees, 28 per cent allow them to donate that time.

“Leave donation allows an employee extra time to handle a personal emergency, keeping them employed and allowing them to continue on the payroll and enrolled in health-care benefits,” said Stich. “It can also benefit an employer by reducing turnover and productivity losses.”

A small percentage of respondents — three per cent of those offering paid time off and less than one per cent of those offering vacation time — allow employees to donate the cash value of unused paid time off to charitable organizations.

Read: How can employers encourage employees to take vacation?

However, U.S. employers are offering other options for flexibility in paid leave, including:

  • 83 per cent allow some or all unused paid-time-off days to be carried over for hourly or salaried employees;
  • 74 per cent allow hourly workers and 77 per cent allow salaried workers to carry over some or all vacation days;
  • 49 per cent allow workers to take advances in paid-time-off days;
  • 38 per cent allow employees to take vacation advances;
  • 23 per cent allow hourly workers and 21 per cent allow salaried workers to sell back unused paid-time-off days;
  • 16 per cent allow hourly employees and 14 per cent allow salaried employees to sell back unused vacation days;
  • 10 per cent allow employees to purchase paid time off; and
  • Eight per cent allow employees to purchase paid vacation time.

Read: Should you let employees buy and sell vacation days?

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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