Measuring the Impact of COVID-19 on Employee Paid Time Off
The coronavirus pandemic has reshaped the way traditional office buildings look and how employees are using paid time off or PTO. In this new reality of COVID-19, the physical office is empty with minimal staff at the building and a majority of employees working remotely. Travel restrictions, company closures, school closures and, social distancing measures have led to canceled trips, additional child care requirements, and an increased need for personal time including taking time off for mental wellness. According to our study, COVID-19 has vastly impacted paid time off in three major areas; a rise in PTO cancellation rates, shorter PTO requests and employees adapting to the “new normal” of changing times.
More Employees Are Cancelling PTO Requests
In this time of COVID-19, more employees are canceling their PTO requests. This is according to our study which analyzed the PTO use of more than 70 companies, primarily global technology startups. The data shows that PTO cancellations doubled in March 2020 compared to the previous 6 months.
Let’s break down the numbers:
- 7%-9% - This is the average PTO cancellation rate in March
- 21%- 24% - This was the rate in March 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Why is this? Travel Restrictions
Travel restrictions, stay at home orders and fear for safety, prompted an increase in vacation and travel cancellations. While some employees opted for a “staycation” at home, some decided that if they are stuck at home, there was no need to take vacation time.
Employees are Asking for Less Time Off
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our study shows that when employees do head to Slack to submit for PTO, they are requesting less time off. Data shows that the length of PTO requests from employees declined by 31% in April and May when compared to the previous 11 months.
Why is this? Uncertainty
Due to COVID-19 restrictions on travel and recreation, data shows that employees don’t find taking long periods of time off, realistic or feasible. Those who have PTO time may be waiting for restrictions to ease up in the future to take time off. This in turn, leads to a lack of time for mental wellness, necessary rest and time to disconnect that is beneficial to the employee.
Adapting to the “New Normal” of COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a new sense of “normal” and employees are having to adapt to the changes. This results in non-traditional breaks, increased mental health and wellness time, and more personal time needed to make up for changes at home.
According to the data from our study, 13% of PTO time requested for April was for personal time.This is a 7% increase from the prior 6 months.
Why is this? Changes At Home + Personal Wellness
New work from home requirements, school closures, gym closures and overall quarantine measures changes up the landscape of the needs for PTO. Companies are creating new out of office or OOO types to include items like COVID-19 sick time or caregiving, family time, homeschooling and away from the screen. These are all a part of the “new normal” and need for employees to adapt to COVID-19 realities that are changing daily. Parents have to take care of children that are no longer heading to school campuses and having to participate in distance learning from home. Working from home means there is no physical separation from the office. Those who are used to this separation may find a hard time disconnecting when working remotely. Time requests for mental breaks may be needed for employees to recharge.
Overall, COVID-19 has presented many uncertain and quick changes to how companies are run and have impacted the PTO needs of employees. PTO must be revised to meet the current needs of employees during this time of COVID-19. To view the full study head here: https://treehoppr.com/resources/impact-of-covid19-on-employee-pto.pdf