Traditional and PTO Plans Dominate the Paid Leave Landscape, with Unlimited Plans Trailing Far Behind, According to XpertHR’s 2021 Paid Leave Survey

NEW PROVIDENCE, N.J., May 5, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Traditional paid leave plans (where all leave is in separate categories) are the most common type of leave plan, with 51% of the 639 employers responding to XpertHR’s Paid Leave Survey 2021 indicating they have this type of plan, compared with 41% for paid time off (PTO) plans (where all or most leave is in a single PTO bank), and 4% for unlimited paid leave plans (where all or most leave has no predetermined limits).

“These findings show that despite the buzz surrounding unlimited leave plans in the HR and benefits space in recent years, traditional and PTO plans maintain their supremacy in the world of paid leave,” says Andrew Hellwege, Surveys Editor, XpertHR.

This year’s results are similar to the those found when XpertHR first surveyed this topic in 2020, when 49% of employers had a traditional plan and 44% had a PTO plan. (Unlimited plans were first tracked in the 2021 survey.)

Additionally, the survey found that union status is a strong indicator of the type of paid leave plan a company has. Over two-thirds (69%) of responding organizations that have at least some union-represented employees indicated that they have a traditional leave plan for all or most workers, compared with 49% of non-union companies.

Conversely, 30% of union employers have a PTO plan compared with 43% of non-union organizations. Unlimited leave plans were rare among responding non-union employers (5%) and nonexistent among union workplaces.

The survey also asked employers with a traditional leave plan to indicate which categories of paid leave they offered and found that paid vacation (98%), paid sick leave (91%), paid bereavement leave (83%), and paid leave for jury duty (75%) were the top four most common categories of leave. (The survey asked about over 10 types of paid leave categories for traditional plans.)

An analysis of PTO plans found that a majority (64%) combine all paid leave into a single PTO bank – meaning, an employee would use PTO for being sick, taking vacation, bereavement, etc. – while 30% provide some form of paid leave in addition to the PTO bank. (The survey excluded company-wide paid holidays as paid leave.)

“This survey highlights a defining difference between traditional and PTO plans — traditional plans almost always have separate vacation and sick leave categories, while PTO plans usually lump all leave into one PTO bank,” notes Hellwege.

XpertHR’s Paid Leave Survey 2021 was conducted from February 23, 2021, to March 19, 2021, and published on April 28, 2021. The survey includes the responses from 639 US employers of various industries and workforce sizes. The total estimated number of employees of responding organizations is 2,112,961. The survey report covers the prevalence of traditional, PTO, and unlimited leave plans, as well as the amount of leave offered per year of service, leave carryover, leave donation, leave payouts, and more.

XpertHR has been providing HR solutions since 2002, empowering organizations across the globe to build successful workforces and create a purposeful workplace for all. The platform delivers expert insight, trusted resources, data analysis and practical tools to help achieve greater efficiency, reduce risk and increase employee engagement. XpertHR is developing smarter data analysis tools and cutting-edge technology to support future demands on HR in an increasingly digital world. To learn more visit

Editor’s Note: Andrew Hellwege is available for interview. If you use any of this material, please include this link.

Media Contact:
Beth Brody



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