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COVID-19 Pandemic PTO Trends

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues into 2021, the importance of paid time off (PTO) for employees remains — despite some mixed feelings about actually using that PTO.

The pandemic has changed how both employees and employers feel about benefits, according to benefits and absence management firm The Hartford, whose Future of Benefits Study polled U.S. workers and human resources benefit decision-makers in early March 2020 just before the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., and again in mid-June.

The Hartford found that employers had increased interest from employees in PTO from part one to part two of its study. More specifically, 31 percent of employees were interested in PTO benefits from their employers pre-pandemic, and that number jumped to 52 percent after the pandemic had settled in.

“The pandemic has put pressure on the American workforce in ways few could have predicted,” said Jonathan Bennett, head of Group Benefits at The Hartford in a press release. “Employees need support more than ever.”

Despite this increased interest in PTO, however, there wasn’t an overwhelming increase in PTO usage in 2020. According to a recent survey by Potawatomi Hotel, 61 percent of full-time working Americans took either the same or less time off in 2020 compared with 2019, while only 39 percent took more time off in 2020, and 47 percent have gone a full calendar year without taking PTO. 

There are five primary reasons employees didn’t take PTO in 2020, according the Potawatomi study:

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