Do Hourly Employees Get Paid Time Off?

group of Human shaped wooden block with blue clock in front representing employee time tracking

All employees love paid time off (PTO), but How does paid time off work for hourly employees? It's not legally required for hourly workers. While the Fair Labour Standards Act (FLSA) sets out minimum wage and overtime pay, it doesn't stretch its mandate to include PTO.

Now, if you think only salaried employees deserve a break, you're missing the bigger picture. Let's rewind and understand why this lack of legal requirement is such a pain point. Imagine you're an hourly employee, juggling life and work. Not having the cushion of PTO means you might need to choose between making rent and taking care of a sick child. That's not a choice anyone should have to make.

Smart employers who have their fingers on the pulse of modern workforce needs don't wait for legislation to tell them what's good for their business. They know that PTO isn't just a dangling carrot for employees—it's a tool for long-term success. It's a symbiotic relationship, really. When employees get time to recharge, they often return to work refreshed, more focused, and more productive. PTO for hourly employees isn't just a cost; it's an investment with measurable returns.

Should Hourly Employees Get Paid Time Off? 

Now that you've asked "How does paid time off work for hourly employees?" it's time to decide if they should get it. So you're at the helm, running the HR department or steering a business, and you're contemplating whether to offer PTO to your hourly employees. I get it, cutting corners where you can feels like the sensible thing to do. But when it comes to PTO, it's not about being cheap—it's about being smart. Providing paid time off is a calculated strategy with significant payoffs.

Useful Read: Understanding Hourly Rates: What You Need to Know

Why Offer PTO? The Business Benefits:

  1. Employee Retention: Trust me, a strong PTO policy makes you an attractive employer. When people see you care about their work-life balance, they stick around.

  2. Reduced Burnout: Ongoing stress takes its toll. Offering PTO reduces burnout, keeping your team energized and motivated.

    Useful Read: Stress Leave from work: Implications and Best Practices

  1. Increased Productivity: Believe it or not, well-rested employees are often more productive. They tackle tasks with a fresh perspective, contributing to better work outcomes.

  2. Enhanced Reputation: A strong PTO policy looks good on paper, and it amplifies your reputation as an employer who cares. In today's social media age, that's PR gold.

  3. Legal Compliance: While not federally mandated, some states have laws requiring PTO. Staying ahead of the curve ensures you're not caught off guard.

You see, offering PTO to hourly employees is a way to foster a productive, loyal, and happier workforce. Remember, in the world of business, the companies that think ahead usually pull ahead. Don't you want to be one of them?

Benefits of PTO for Hourly Employees: It's More Than Just Time Off

back view of employee relaxing in office

If you're an hourly employee, or you're managing a team of them, you'll want to perk up for this. PTO is a game-changer for quality of life and job performance. Here's a breakdown of why PTO is such a win-win for hourly folks:

Boosts Morale

Ever heard the saying, "A happy employee is a productive employee?" It's backed by research. Offering PTO is like sending a direct message: "We appreciate you." That acknowledgment boosts morale and job satisfaction, which in turn can lower turnover rates.

Work-Life Balance

Let's get real. We're not robots; we can't function at full throttle indefinitely. A balanced life enriches us mentally and emotionally. PTO gives employees a chance to step back and enjoy other facets of life—whether that's spending time with family, pursuing hobbies, or just binge-watching a new TV series.


Life is unpredictable. Your kid's school event, your friend's wedding, or even a sudden car breakdown doesn't work around your schedule. Having PTO allows for that flexibility, making life's unexpected turns easier to navigate.

Mental Health

We all hit walls sometimes. The constant grind can lead to burnout, affecting both mental well-being and work quality. PTO offers a structured way to take a step back, allowing for mental rejuvenation. Upon returning, employees often report feeling more focused and engaged in their tasks.


A well-structured PTO policy not only benefits employees but also simplifies leave management. With a streamlined system like Shiftbase, managing PTO becomes a breeze, making it easier to plan and fill gaps in your schedule.

Benefits of PTO for Employers: A Strategic Move You Can't Ignore

Look, PTO isn't just for the employees; it's a business asset for you too. If you're an HR manager, business owner, or employer, you'll find that PTO can be the secret to a successful, smooth-running operation. Here's why:

Less Absenteeism

When employees can plan their time off, you can plan around it, too. A well-structured PTO policy translates to fewer disruptions in your workflow and more predictable staffing. The benefit? A smoother, more efficient operation.

Must Read: Absenteeism: Definition, Causes, Effects, and Solutions


Hate saying goodbye to top performers? A solid PTO policy could keep them around. People value their time, and a generous PTO package could tip the scales in favour of staying, rather than searching for a new gig.


Let's face it: In today's competitive job market, a compelling PTO policy can be a game-changer. It can attract top-tier talent who might otherwise overlook your organization. Think of it as a key selling point that can set you apart from competitors.

Simplifies Admin

Imagine having one pot of time-off days rather than dividing them into holiday days, sick days, and so on. It simplifies administrative tasks, making life easier for you and your HR team. If you're using an absence management system like Shiftbase, you're in luck. It streamlines this process, saving you time and headaches.

How to Calculate PTO for Hourly Employees: Your Step-by-Step Guide

So, you're knee-deep in managing hourly employees and wondering how to figure out their PTO? You're in the right place. Calculating PTO for hourly workers is different from salaried employees, but it doesn't have to be a puzzle. Let's break it down:

PTO Bank

First off, hourly employees typically earn PTO hours in proportion to the hours they work. For example, for every 40 hours worked, an employee might earn one hour of PTO. This setup ensures a fair system where the more you work, the more PTO you accrue. And the best part? With a tool like Shiftbase, you can automate this process, saving you valuable time and effort.

Roll-Over Option

This one's interesting. Some companies allow employees to roll over unused PTO hours into the next year. The rollover option can be a big win for workers who didn't get the chance to take time off but don't want to lose what they've earned. It's also an attractive perk that can make your company more competitive in the job market.

Bonus Tips

  1. Legal Mandates: Check your state and local laws. Some places have specific rules on how PTO must be accrued or paid out upon an employee's departure.

  2. Proration: If an employee starts mid-year, you might need to prorate their PTO based on their start date.

  3. Caps: Some companies put a cap on how much PTO can be accrued, which can help control labour costs.

Why Hourly Employees Might Hesitate to Use PTO: A Closer Look

girl relaxing at desk on workplace after working remotely

Ah, the irony! You offer PTO to help your hourly employees recharge, but they're hesitant to actually take it. Let's dig into some underlying reasons:

Fear of Falling Behind

Hourly employees often worry that taking time off means their workload will pile up. The fear of returning to a mountain of tasks can make them think twice about using PTO.

Job Security Concerns

There's a lingering thought that if they're not present, they might be seen as expendable. No one wants to come back from a relaxing holiday only to find their job in jeopardy.

Financial Strain

Because they're paid by the hour, taking time off directly impacts their pay cheque. Some may feel that PTO is a luxury they can't afford.

Social Pressure

Sometimes, workplace culture implicitly discourages time off. If employees see their peers skipping vacations, they might feel obligated to do the same.

Employer's Role

As an employer, it's your job to tackle these issues head-on. Create an environment where taking PTO is normalized and encouraged. Offer temporary coverage options or work-sharing setups to manage workloads while employees are out. Most importantly, be vocal about your support for employee well-being.

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Streamlining PTO Management with Shiftbase: A Game-Changer

Ah, the nitty-gritty of PTO management—lots of papers, tracking spreadsheets, and, let's be honest, potential errors. But what if I told you there's a way to sidestep all those headaches? Enter Shiftbase, the online absence management platform that turns PTO administration into a walk in the park.

  • Seamless User Experience: Let's start with the basics. The app is so intuitive that employees can apply for leave with just a few taps on their screen. For supervisors, approving or rejecting those requests is just as effortless. No need to sift through paperwork or emails.

  • No More Manual Calculations: Automatically accrue holiday hours based on either hours worked or contractual hours. Say goodbye to your calculator and hello to accuracy.

  • Comprehensive Reports: Ever wondered how much sick leave is costing you? Shiftbase's in-depth reports lay it all out, helping you spot trends and make data-driven decisions.

  • Keep Those Costs in Check: Need to adjust the work schedule due to unexpected leave? No problem. The platform's labour cost control feature allows for shift swaps and other adjustments to keep your operations smooth sailing.

  • Stay Compliant, Stress-Free: With all the legal mandates around employee leave, staying compliant can be a full-time job in itself. Shiftbase keeps you aligned with employment laws, so you can sleep easy.
One-Size-Fits-All? Nah, Custom Fits: Whether you're in retail, production, or transportation, Shiftbase flexes to meet the unique needs of various industries.

Ready to revolutionize your approach to PTO management? Try Shiftbase for free for 14 daysand see the difference yourself.


Absence Management
Topic: Time off / Hourly Employee Paid Time Off