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Can Different Employees Get Different PTO?

Can Different Employees Get Different PTO?Can Different Employees Get Different PTO?
min read
August 21, 2023

When you’re building a team for your small business, chances are, you’re hiring different types of employees. For example, let’s say you own a retail business. You might hire a staff of full-time employees to work in your corporate office doing things like marketing strategy—and then also hire a larger group of part-time employees to work the floor at your retail location.

All of those employees are important, critical parts of your team. To help them feel like a part of your organization, you want to recognize them for their contributions, ensure they have a supportive work environment, and treat all of your team members the same, regardless of their status or title.

But what about paid time off? When it comes to your PTO policy, do you have to treat all of your employees the same? Or can you offer different PTO programs (including vacation time, sick time, and personal time) to different employees?

Yes, you can offer different time off packages to different employees

When it comes to PTO, you’re legally allowed to offer different structures to different employees, as long as the basis for the different employee benefits isn’t grounded in any type of discrimination. So, in other words, you can’t create different policies based on things like race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, nationality, or any other characteristics protected by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

That being said, if there are other ways that you group your employees—and you want to offer different paid time off packages to those groups—it’s well within your legal right to do so. Some of the different structures you may want to consider offering different types of employees include:

How to write an effective PTO policy for all of your employees and packages

If you’re going to be offering different options for different employees, it’s super important to make sure that every employee is crystal clear on the PTO they’re entitled to, including the number of days, total PTO hours, sick leave, and paid leave/unpaid leave options. And the best way to do that? 

Creating a thorough, detailed PTO policy for each program you offer.

Writing clear policies for each of the PTO options you offer—and then giving the relevant policy to the employees it applies to—can help ensure that all of your employees understand how their time off is structured, how much time off they’re entitled to, and how and when they’re eligible to take that paid time off.

Here are some things you’ll want to include in each policy:

To make sure you and your team are all on the same page with paid time off—regardless of which policy applies—make sure to have your human resources department review relevant policies with new employees during the onboarding process, answer any questions, and get them to sign a document stating that they understand the policy. 

Create policies that work for your team—whether that’s a uniform policy or different PTO for different employees

With PTO, there are options when it comes to how to structure your company policy; you can offer a blanket PTO policy that applies to all of your employees or create separate policies that apply to different types of employees, whether that’s full-time vs. part-time employees, exempt vs. non-exempt employees, or new vs. tenured employees. But the key is to choose a structure that makes sense for you, your team, and your business (and is compliant with all applicable federal laws, state laws, and local laws)—and then make sure that every employee understands the policy and how it applies to their time off.

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