“You need a vacation.”

“Don’t forget to use your PTO before it’s too late…”

“Use it or Lose it!”

You may recognize these as something your boss may tell you when the end of the year starts to roll around. Each company has their own reasoning behind wanting their workers to use up their Paid Time Off, (PTO) but can they actually force you to take your vacation time?

YES! However, that rarely bodes well for the morale of the employee if they don’t want to take the time off. Some employers have a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy where any remaining vacation time is lost if unused by a certain date. In some instances, due to their work schedule or personal reasons, the employee is unable to use that time. If the employee isn’t willing or able to take off as much time as the company would like, they could instead pay the employee for the hours they’re unable to use. This option still allows them to receive the benefits of the PTO they earned while also reducing the potential for low morale.

If you would rather employees use their vacation time to actually vacation, we recommend giving them a minimum of 3 months’ notice (even more is better) to make travel plans, coordinate with friends and family, prepare their desk for their absence, etc… In doing this, workers will be much more apt to leave the office, if they feel fully prepared in advance.

Bottom line: Make sure you are applying all policies consistently across the company; And if you are introducing a new standard make sure that employees are made aware of the policy in writing.

And when you do get out of the office and are sunning on the beach, have a mai tai for me.