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This Is How Much Your Time Off Is Really Worth

how much is PTO worth

We’ve all heard the phrase, “time is money.” 

But did you know that when you neglect to use your Paid Time Off (PTO), you’re basically working for money you’ve already earned?

But how much is your PTO worth?

Explore the untapped monetary potential of your PTO days, figure out how much your time may actually be worth, and find out how you can make the most of your PTO benefits.

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How Much Is PTO Worth?

Paid time off is a part of a compensation package many employers offer employees. It essentially pays employees for the time they take off work. 

Some employers have PTO policies where employees may be compensated for unused PTO. This compensation usually happens at a year's end, retirement, or employee separation. 

PTO has monetary value and how much your PTO is worth may depend on your:

  • Amount of unused PTO days

  • Salary

  • PTO policy

  • Number of working days in a year

But how much PTO is going unused?

According to Business Insider, 5,902 American workers were surveyed to find out how many people utilize their PTO. They survey found that nearly 46% of employees do not take their allotted time off

This means almost half of the working population is neglecting to use their PTO days for time off. 

What Does PTO Cost a Company?

Employer Expenses

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average private sector employee compensation package costs their employer $41.03  per hour. Of that amount, 70% accounted for hourly wages ($28.97) and the other 30% ($12.06) accounted for employer-provided benefits. 

These benefits generally include:

  • Insurances

  • Retirement benefits (401k, social security, etc.)

  • Paid time off (holiday, sick, personal, and vacation)

Out of that figure, how much is PTO worth?

The cost of all paid leave benefits is an average of $1.98 per hour or 7% of the total compensation package cost. Out of this average, paid vacation time costs an employer $1.03 per hour or 3.6% of all total compensation costs. 

Variables To Consider

Several variables should be considered when factoring in the true cost of PTO for employers. When the employee is using PTO, all of the benefits are still being paid for. This means that the employee is receiving wage payment and all of their added benefits like health and life insurance and retirement benefits.

The employer must also bear the costs of the employee’s absence. 

How will their role be filled while they are on vacation? Can their work wait, or can it be distributed amongst other employees? Will their absence require a paid substitute?

Handling these logistics may also require extra time and administrative manpower to address, which could be considered another variable cost if this extra work results in overtime. 


Any provided benefit like PTO or health insurance is a cost to the company, but employers will happily cover this cost because of the return on investment. 

Employer-provided benefits invest in employees’ physical, mental, and social health and, in turn, employees are happier, more productive, and less likely to leave their job.

Benefits may matter more to employees than wages.

One survey conducted by Forbes Advisor revealed that 40% of surveyed workers would leave their jobs if a prospective employer offered the same wage but with better benefits. This same survey also found that around 62% of businesses have increased benefit packages in the past year. 

In another annual employee survey conducted by Aflac, 60% of employees replied that they would take a job with lower pay if it had better benefits.

How does employer-provided benefits increase productivity?

Employee benefits like paid time off help prioritize work-life balance, wellness initiatives, and financial support which can help employers foster a healthy and happy work environment. A happier, healthier work environment can lead to increased employee productivity. 

A recent study conducted by Forbes found that “happy” employees were 20% more productive than “unhappy” employees.

It’s Important To Understand Why PTO Days Have Value

Your paid time off is a part of your employee benefits, which are effectively a part of your salary. If you are not using these paid-off days, you’re not taking advantage of their value. 

And if your employer does not have a PTO policy that reimburses you for unused PTO days — in a way you’re kind of working for free.

Think about it. With PTO, you get paid to take time off. If you do not use that time off, you’re working your already compensated hours when you could have gotten paid to relax. 

Knowing the Value of Your PTO Helps To Clarify Its Worth

Time is money, and your PTO is time you don’t have to work to make that money. 

When you understand the value of your PTO, you can use it how you want with confidence. It’s your paid relaxation time, use it how you want. 

But what if you have a bunch of accrued vacation days and have no intent to use them?

Maybe your job provides PTO, but you just don’t have the time to use it. Maybe you love your job and don’t need too much of a break from it. Or perhaps you want to use your accrued PTO days to earn a little extra money when you leave your company. 

Sorbet has developed a way to cash in on your accrued PTO days. 

PTO has monetary value. Don’t wait until you leave your job to access your potential PTO payout. Use Sorbet and get a PTO cash advance today.

How To Calculate the Value of Your PTO

Employers generally offer three different kinds of PTO policies which are:

  • Yearly set PTO: Your employer grants you a set amount of PTO days a year. 

  • Accrued PTO: Employers grant PTO days to employees a certain amount of PTO per pay period. Your employer calculates how many days are equivalent to your pay period and that substantiates how much PTO you get for the year. 

  • Rollover allowances: This kind of PTO policy allows employees to retain their unused PTO for the next year or pay period. Employees can sit on the PTO and let it build then use it however they want, whether it be all at once or a little at a time. 

The amount of PTO days you are given may increase based on how long you have remained with the company. 

Calculating the Value of Your PTO

Simply divide your annual salary by the days you work in a year and you get the value of one PTO day.

For most nine-to-five jobs, there will be 260 work days (261 if leap year is applied) in a year. This includes the number of federal holidays that are considered paid days off which are not included in employee PTO. 

The Hidden Costs of Unused PTO

For Employees


Certain work cultures wrongfully put heavy praise on “the grind.” 

We all have that one coworker or friend who is obsessed with always working, never taking a vacation, and even going as far as to admonish much-deserved coffee breaks. This can further influence the “grind mindset” that upholds the expectation that “good” workers don’t need time off which effectively leads to increased feelings of stress and burnout among workers. 

Taking PTO days can also mean managing your off-time without putting unnecessary strain on your coworkers or work environment. Some people may even feel stressed about asking for time off, especially if their role is integral to daily operations. 

The Pew Research Center organized a study to explore some of the reasons American workers are neglecting to use PTO. They found that 49% of employees reported that they do not take paid time off for fear of falling behind at work. 

Neglecting to use your PTO could lead to physical and mental burnout, without any added compensation. This could lead to further absenteeism or job abandonment. 

One study found that burnout was often associated with increased use of sick and personal days. Another study conducted by Limeade found that burnout was the number one reason why 40% of 1,000 surveyed employees left their jobs. And 28% of those employees left their jobs before securing other means of employment. 

Effective Loss of Salary

When you don't use your PTO, you’re working days you would have already gotten paid. This means you’re working time you don’t actually have to work to be compensated.

Your PTO is a part of your employee benefits, which are essentially a part of your salary. 

Neglecting to use your benefits, like vacation or sick days, means you’re not receiving the full compensation of your salary. You’re getting paid to take time off, if you don’t take that time off you’re just working when you don’t have to. 

What happens to unused PTO?

Oxford Economics collected the data of 1,303 respondents in one study to explore how unused PTO is handled in the private sector. 

The study found that:

  • 26.5% of unused PTO was lost if not used

  • 53.5% of unused PTO was rolled over

  • 9.9% of unused PTO was “banked” 

  • 18.6 of unused PTO was paid out and;

  • 4.5% of unused PTO was unaccounted for

If you’re one of the lucky employees who are provided repayment for your unused PTO, it might shock you to learn you can access that money early. 

Generally, employers with this kind of PTO policy will pay employees for their unused PTO when they leave the company. With Sorbet, you don’t have to wait until you leave your place of employment to get paid for your unused PTO. 

Explore your options with Sorbet today. 

For Employers

Vacation Liability

Lingering PTO may be a liability for employers. 

Accrued PTO can build up and affect a company’s bottom line. The “bottom line” is a company’s income after all expenses have been deducted from the revenues. 

If a company pays out for unused PTO days, the more accrued vacation and sick days could result in a financial liability. It has been speculated that American companies have almost $224 billion in unused PTO liability. 

Lower Productivity

Vacations have been proven to increase productivity, while neglecting to take advantage of PTO may lower productivity. 

They allow employees to recover from stress and return feeling energized and refreshed. This increases employee productivity that otherwise would have been lowered due to burnout.

One Ernst and Young study found that for every additional 10 hours of used PTO that surveyed employees took, their end-of-year performance increased by 8%. This same study revealed that employees who took more vacations were less likely to leave the firm. 

Taking time off to increase your productivity may not only benefit employers. 

Recent research speculated that increasing your used vacation time could increase your likelihood of earning a raise. 

Unlock Compensation From Unused PTO With Sorbet

So now you understand the potential value of your unused PTO, and you realize you have so much of it. What do you do? If your employer pays out your PTO, you can always wait until you leave your job to take advantage of that sweet PTO payout. 

Or you can use Sorbet and access it now. 

Sorbet can help you estimate the worth of your PTO and get a cash advance!

How it all works:

  1. Calculate the value of your unused PTO​. Find out an estimate of what PTO is worth in just a few clicks!

  2. Apply in minutes. We’ve made applying easy and risk-free. Waste no worries on a credit check or commitment. You can change your mind at any time with no strings attached. 

  3. Get paid with the cash advance on your unused PTO.

We use an industry average and our proprietary algorithm to estimate the monetary potential of your unused PTO days and then help you access those funds for whatever you want or need! 

Access your unused PTO before you would traditionally get it with the help of Sorbet today.

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