How to Calculate PTO

by Keith Evans; Updated September 26, 2017

If your business has employees, you likely have a policy for paid time off. While many employers would find it simplest to just grant each employee a fixed amount of vacation time, doing so could leave the company with a liability if the employee takes the full allocation then leaves. For safer and more accurate PTO calculation, many companies instead allow employees to accrue PTO as they work.

Calculation by Pay Period

Because salaried and exempt employees receive set compensation regardless of the number of hours they work, many businesses calculate their PTO in a straightforward manner. Calculating PTO by pay period allows you to evenly distribute these employees’ accumulation throughout the year.

Step 1

You will likely have employees earning PTO at different rates, with more senior employees earning more hours per year than newer employees. For example, an entry-level employee may earn 80 hours of PTO per year, while a senior manager might have twice that many.

Step 2

Most businesses pay employees every two weeks, so you will likely divide the number of PTO hours earned per year by 26. If you pay your employees weekly, divide by 52 instead. If the employee earns 80 hours of PTO per year and gets paid every two weeks, he will earn 3.08 hours of PTO each pay period.

Calculation by Hours Worked

If you have hourly or part-time employees, you may want to award PTO based on the number of hours worked. Calculating PTO hourly allows you to award less PTO for hourly employees who do not report to work or for part-time employees who do not always work the same number of hours in a pay period.

Step 1

While many businesses award full-time employees two weeks of PTO per year, you may choose to award part-time and hourly employees less than salaried and exempt employees.


  • Some businesses award part-time employees only 40 hours of PTO per year. Other businesses still award part-time employees two weeks of PTO each year, but the number of PTO hours is based on the employee’s average weekly hours worked. For an employee working 25 hours per week, two weeks of paid time off would require only 50 PTO hours.

Step 2

Multiply the employee’s average weekly hours by 52, the number of weeks in a year. For an hourly employee working 40 hours per week, use 2,080 hours per year.


Step 3

If your hourly employee earns 80 hours of PTO each year and works 40 hours per week, or 2,080 hours per year, divide 80 by 2,080. As a result, this employee earns 0.038 hours of PTO for each hour worked.

Using PTO in Advance

Because all methods of PTO accrual make it difficult for employees to take time off during the first few months of the year, many businesses allow employees to borrow vacation time. Businesses typically limit the amount of time an employee can use in advance, but often allow at least 40 hours so employees can take an entire week off.

About the Author

Keith Evans has been writing professionally since 1994 and now works from his office outside of Orlando. He has written for various print and online publications and wrote the book, "Appearances: The Art of Class." Evans holds a Bachelor of Arts in organizational communication from Rollins College and is pursuing a Master of Business Administration in strategic leadership from Andrew Jackson University.

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