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Template: How to Communicate PTO Policy Updates

Template: How to Communicate PTO Policy Updates

Employers who care about retention should care about their PTO policy, too. Similarly, HR pros should regularly conduct a PTO audit to stay compliant and protect the bottom line. When making changes to your PTO policy after an audit, it's important to clearly communicate updates to employees.

Here's a template you can use to announce those PTO policy updates to your workforce.


How to Communicate a PTO Policy Change to Employees

As the workforce and labor laws are constantly changing, PTO policies require regular review for companies to remain competitive, compliant, and financially solvent. How you communicate updates to an existing leave policy is especially important to company culture, and transparency can go a long way in this messaging. 

To that end, you should include the following information:

  1. Explain the Reason for the Audit: Employees may be frustrated with the change, especially if they might “lose” accrued PTO), but they’ll appreciate the respect of transparency when explaining the reason.
  2. Detail the Updates: Whether capping rollover amounts, increasing annual allotted days, or switching completely to an unlimited approach, HR should include exactly what’s changed and why. 
  3. How the Policy Impacts Hourly vs. Salaried Workers: Depending on the policy, changes may affect one group of workers and not the other--such as exempt vs. nonexempt. Any communication from HR should be specific to avoid confusion. 
  4. Display the Policy: PTO is there for employees to use, so they should be able to access the policy at any time. Post it in a highly visible area in the office or host it on the organization's intranet. This will provide even more transparency between HR and employees. 
  5. Start Date: Employees need to know when to expect the changes will take place--whether effective immediately or months down the road.
  6. Anticipated FAQs: HR should stay ahead of the curve with pre-generated responses to expected questions that employees may ask when the policy is announced.


How the COVID Pandemic Has Affected PTO and Vacation

As many businesses have made the transitions from an office environment to a remote one to something in between, the workplace has experienced many significant changes prompted by the pandemic. It's clear that many businesses who may once have shown apprehension have been forced to be more adaptable to such changes.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), on average, employees took less vacation time during the pandemic, which was somewhat set off by the flexibility of remote work. As businesses explore these new work-from-home or hybrid models of work, they should also evaluate how their PTO policies are working. It's crucial that organizations effectively communicate any changes in policy to their employees. 

Research on unused PTO shows that employees who take more time off are more effective in their time at work. So, employers should communicate PTO benefits more effectively to improve employee satisfaction and engagement.


Template: PTO Policy Update Communication

Use the communication tips above and the template below when promoting PTO policy changes to employees:


I’m reaching out today regarding an update to [Company]’s PTO policy. HR audited the team’s time-off benefits and updated the plan with a new policy that will help keep our organization financially healthy—now and in the future. 

With this in mind, beginning [date], we’ll implement the following changes to our PTO policy: 

        1. PTO will be available to exempt and non-exempt employees.
        2. Employees receive their allotted PTO at the beginning of the calendar year.
        3. All PTO requests and approvals will be tracked using [system]. 
        4. PTO allotments are as follows:
          1. 0-5 years of service – [days] PTO days each year for exempt employees; [days] PTO days each year for nonexempt employees.
          2. 6-10 years of service – [days] PTO days each year for exempt employees; [days] PTO days each year for nonexempt employees.
          3. 10+ years of service – [days] PTO days each year for exempt employees; [days] PTO days each year for nonexempt employees.
        5. PTO requests may not be approved during [quarter], which is our busiest time of the year; we encourage employees to work with their managers to identify appropriate periods for time-off during this time
        6. Employees may roll over up to five days of unused PTO from one year to another; any unused PTO exceeding five days is forfeited at the beginning of the new calendar year

[Company] expects some employees may have questions about the new policy. HR produced a set of anticipated FAQs—available here [link]—that should address any concerns you may have. 

If you have any additional questions about the PTO policy, please contact [contact information]. 

As always, thank you for your commitment to our team, 



Additional Resources

Aspiring HR pros need to be in the know. You can stay informed, educated, and up-to-date with important HR topics by using BerniePortal’s comprehensive resources:

  • BerniePortal Blog—a one-stop-shop for HR industry news
  • HR Glossary—featuring the most common HR terms, acronyms, and compliance
  • HR Guides—essential pillars, covering an extensive list of comprehensive HR topics
  • BernieU—free online HR courses, approved for SHRM and HRCI recertification credit
  • HR Party of One—our popular YouTube series and podcast, covering emerging HR trends and enduring HR topics

BernieU Course: Paid Time Off Tutorial: How to Build and Audit a Great PTO Policy

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