pto accrual

PTO Accrual – 6 Tips You Need To Know About Paid Time Off Accrual

What is PTO Accrual?


Paid Time Off  – PTO accrual refers to the method by which employees accumulate or earn paid time off as they work. Rather than being granted all of their allotted PTO at the beginning of the year (or other measurement period), employees earn a certain amount of time off for each hour, day, or week they work.


Here’s a general breakdown of how PTO accrual might work:


Rate of Accrual:

An employee might earn a certain number of PTO hours for each full week worked. For instance, they might earn 2 hours of PTO for every 40-hour workweek.

Accrual Caps:

There may be limits to how much PTO an employee can accrue. For example, an employer might set a cap of 80 PTO hours. Once an employee has accrued 80 hours, they won’t accumulate any more PTO until they use some of their accrued time.

Carryover Limits:

Some employers allow employees to carry unused PTO from one year to the next, but there might be a limit to the number of hours that can be carried over.


Once PTO has been accrued, employees can request to use it, typically through a formal process where the employer approves or denies the time off based on various factors, like business needs or the number of other employees already taking time off during the requested period.

Payout Upon Termination:

In some cases, if an employee leaves the company (whether they quit, are laid off, or are fired), they may be entitled to be paid out for the PTO they’ve accrued but not used. However, this varies by company policy and local labor laws.

Different Tiers:

It’s common for PTO accrual rates to increase based on tenure with a company. For instance, a new employee might accrue PTO at a rate of 4 hours per month, but an employee who’s been with the company for 5 years might accrue PTO at 6 hours per month.


pto accrual frequencies


Common PTO Accrual Frequencies.


Paid Time Off (PTO) accrual frequencies determine how often employees earn or accumulate their time off. The most common PTO accrual frequencies are:

Hourly (or Per-Hour Worked):

Employees earn a certain amount of PTO for every hour worked. For instance, an employee might earn 0.05 hours of PTO for every hour they work.


Employees accrue a set amount of PTO for each day worked.


Employees earn PTO based on a full week of work. For example, after completing a 40-hour workweek, an employee might earn 2 hours of PTO.


Accrual occurs every two weeks, often aligned with common bi-weekly payroll schedules.


Employees earn PTO twice a month, which often corresponds with semi-monthly payroll systems.


Accrual happens once at the end of the month. An employee might earn one PTO day for every month worked.


Rather than accruing bit by bit throughout the year, employees receive their entire PTO allotment at once, often at the beginning of the year or on their work anniversary.


In some organizations, PTO accrual rates increase after certain employment milestones, like after completing one, five, or ten years of service. While the frequency of accrual may remain the same (e.g., monthly), the amount accrued might increase based on tenure.


pto accrual policy


Are accruals applied to all types of paid time off?


Not always. While the concept of accrual can be applied to various types of paid time off, its implementation often depends on the company’s policies, regional labor laws, and the nature of the time off. Here are some types of paid time off and how accruals typically relate to them:

Vacation Time:

This is the most common type of PTO to which accruals are applied. Employees often accumulate vacation time based on hours, days, or weeks worked.

Sick Leave:

Accrual systems for sick leave are prevalent, especially in areas where labor laws mandate paid sick time. Employees might earn a set amount of sick leave per month or hours worked.


Generally, accruals are not applied to holidays. Employees either get paid holidays as part of their employment terms, or they don’t. However, some companies might offer a “floating holiday” system where employees earn days they can use at their discretion.

Bereavement Leave:

Accruals are typically not applied to bereavement leave. Such leave is usually granted as needed, based on company policy or local labor laws.

Also Read: Our detailed guide on bereavement leave.

Jury Duty:

Like bereavement leave, jury duty leave is granted as needed, and accruals usually don’t apply.

Personal Days:

Depending on the company, personal days might accrue similarly to vacation days, or they might be granted in a lump sum each year.

Maternity/Paternity Leave:

These types of leave are typically not subject to accrual systems. They are often based on employment status, tenure, or local labor laws and are granted for a fixed duration.

Compensatory Time (Comp Time):

For some non-exempt employees, instead of receiving overtime pay, they might accrue additional time off (“comp time”). This system lets employees earn tim

e off in lieu of extra pay for hours worked beyond their regular schedule.

Administrative Leave:

This type of leave, often used for disciplinary reasons or while an investigation is pending, isn’t typically accrued but granted as situations arise.

In all cases, the application of accruals to different types of PTO is largely dependent on an organization’s internal policies and local regulations. It’s essential for employees to refer to their employment contract and company handbook or consult with the HR department to understand how their PTO accrues and which types of leave are subject to accruals.


pto accrual employment contracts

Understanding PTO Accruals: A Must for Employees


It’s imperative for employees to be fully aware of their Paid Time Off (PTO) accruals. This knowledge ensures they understand their rights and benefits, fostering a transparent relationship between the employee and the employer. Being informed about PTO accruals allows employees to effectively plan their vacations, breaks, or any other necessary time off without inadvertently compromising their compensation or work responsibilities.

Furthermore, including PTO accrual details in the employment contract solidifies its importance and ensures that both parties have clear, written expectations from the outset. This inclusion can prevent potential misunderstandings or disputes in the future.

A well-defined PTO accrual policy in the employment contract establishes trust, showcases the company’s commitment to employee welfare, and underscores the importance of work-life balance. Employees, in turn, feel valued and are more likely to be engaged and satisfied with their roles. It’s a win-win for all parties involved.


Also Read: PTO Payout Laws


The specifics of PTO accrual—such as the rate at which PTO is earned, any caps on accumulation, and rules around usage—are usually outlined in an employer’s HR or personnel policies and can vary widely based on the employer, local regulations, and cultural norms.




Basil Abbas

Basil is the Founder and CTO at ClockIt. With over 10 years of experience in the products space, there is no challenge that is too big in front of him be it sales, marketing, coding, etc. A people person and loves working in a startup for perfection.