PTO and You: Get the Time Off You Need

Topics: Small Business

PTO: Time Off Policy for Small Businesses

Paid time off (PTO) is a challenging subject for many small business owners. You want to take care of your employees, but you also need to make sure your business operates at full efficiency. And what about your own time off? Do you get sick days and vacation time when you need it? If you are like most small business owners, the answer is probably no. Consider the following tips when deciding how to balance paid time off for your employees and to help ensure your business (and your well-being) is built to last.

The Challenges of Offering PTO

PTO and small businesses

The idea productivity loss due to not having all your employees at work is an understandable worry of most business owners. Some small businesses may not have enough staff to cover the workload of a missing employee. Even if you do have enough staff to keep up with every task at hand, how do you design a system that's both equitable and sustainable?

The key to providing vacation time for your employees is to create an official system that suits the unique needs of your business. Take the time to research what kind of vacation policy is common in your industry and area, as well as average PTO given, and borrow from each example to create a custom package for your own staff.

Next, determine what your finances can support, and then document how much time off is available to each employee. Create procedures for requesting time off, including seasonal concerns. Once you have a basic system in place, you can adjust it as needed to accommodate changes to your business. Offering PTO to employees can help set your small business apart and make staying with the company over time more appealing. In fact, studies like this one have shown that employees who take paid time off generally return to work with a better attitude and demonstrate better performance. The study also found an increase in productivity prior to taking vacation time, which underscores the benefits of offering a healthy vacation package to employees.

What If Business Owners Want to Take a Vacation?

Even if you have a vacation policy in place for your employees, what about you? A healthy business requires a healthy business owner, so you shouldn't leave yourself out of your company's PTO plan. Time off is necessary, both for vacation and for sick days. You need vacation to unwind and refresh, and you need sick days to protect your health and the health of others at your business. Here are some tips to help you plan for your own time off, too.

Standard Operating Procedure for Owner Time Off

  1. Make sure you have someone who can cover for you. No matter how hard it is to give up control, the only way to ensure that your business is taken care of in your absence is to have a second-in-command. This person should be trained in essential operations and have access to everything they need to pick up where you left off when you take vacation or a sick day.
  2. Maintain and share a list of important contacts. Whether you planned to be away or need to use sick time in an emergency, maintain a list of important contacts for employees to use while you are gone. Your list should include internal business contacts, like your lawyer and accountant, as well as the main points of contact for your clients and vendors.
  3. Establish clear protocols on how to reach out to you with questions or concerns while you're away. Ideally, no one will bother you while you're sick or on vacation. But as the owner, it's important that you document an official policy on when, why, and how employees should contact you for help so that important work doesn't get held up just because you're out of the office.
  4. Expect to get sick. Assuming that you will never need time off is not a realistic business plan, even for the most passionate of owners. Instead, plan for your absences in advance so that taking time off won't be so disruptive to your business – whether you need time to rest or time to relax.
With careful planning and official policies in place, you can make sure that both you and your employees have time off available when it's needed. Designing a system for your company and implementing it may take some work, but in the end, your business will be stronger for it.

Check our blog regularly for more small business tips. We can also help you ensure you have the proper insurance coverage in place to run your business, including an EPLI policy.

This material is for informational purposes only. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors. Coverages may vary by location. Contact with your local RSM for more information.

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