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The Empuls Glossary

Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

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Accrued Leave

Accrued leave represents the amount of paid time off that an employee has earned but has not yet used. This can include various types of leave such as vacation, sick days, personal time, or other company-specific leave categories. As an essential element of employee benefits, accrued leave is a reflection of an organization's acknowledgment of employees' need for rest, recuperation, and personal management outside of work responsibilities.

What is accrued leave?  

Accrued leave refers to the time off an employee earns based on the amount of time they've worked.  

It's essentially a bank of vacation or sick days that accumulates over time. Employees don't receive all their paid time off at the beginning of a pay period or year, but rather earn them gradually as they complete their work hours.

Listen, recognize, award, and retain your employees with our Employee engagement software  

What are the key points of accrued leave?  

Here's a breakdown of key points about accrued leave:

  • Earning Leave: The rate at which employees accrue leave varies depending on the company's policy. It could be a set number of days earned per pay period, month, or year of employment. Some companies may also have tiered systems where employees earn more leave days as their tenure with the organization increases.
  • Leave Types: Accrued leave often applies to various types of paid time off, most commonly vacation leave and sick leave. Some companies may also include personal days or other specific leave categories under the accrued leave system.
  • Carryover: Some companies allow employees to carry over a certain number of unused accrued leave days to the next year or pay period. This provides flexibility for employees who may not be able to use all their earned leave. However, policies may limit the maximum number of days that can be carried forward to prevent excessive accumulation.
  • Tracking and Usage: Organizations typically have mechanisms for employees to track their accrued leave balances and submit requests to utilize their earned time off. This may involve online leave management systems or communication with HR departments.

What are some common types of leaves covered under accrued leave?  

While the specific types of leave may vary by company policy, here are the most common categories that fall under accrued leave programs:

  • Vacation Leave: This is the most common type of accrued leave, allowing employees to take planned time off for personal reasons, travel, or relaxation.
  • Sick Leave: Accrued sick leave allows employees to take paid time off when they are ill, need to attend medical appointments, or care for sick family members.
  • Personal Days: Some companies offer a set number of personal days that employees can use for unplanned events, emergencies, or appointments that fall outside the scope of sick leave.

Can employees carry over unused accrued leave days?  

Some companies allow employees to carry over a certain number of unused accrued leave days to the next year or pay period. This provides flexibility for employees who may not be able to use all their earned leave. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Carryover Policies: Companies may have specific limits on the number of days that can be carried forward. This prevents an excessive accumulation of leave days that could disrupt staffing needs.
  • Use-It-or-Lose-It Policies: Some companies have policies where unused leave days are forfeited at the end of the year or pay period. This encourages employees to take advantage of their earned time off and avoid losing potential benefits.
  • Cash-Out Options: In rare cases, companies may offer employees the option to cash out a certain number of unused leave days at the end of the year. This is typically capped and subject to company policy and tax implications.

How does an employee typically accrue leave days?  

Accrual rates for paid time off (PTO) can vary depending on the company's policy and several factors. Here's a breakdown of common scenarios:

  • Fixed Rate per Pay Period: Some companies award a set number of leave days every pay period (e.g., bi-weekly or monthly). For example, an employee earning 10 days of PTO per year might accrue 0.83 days per bi-weekly pay period (10 days / 12 pay periods).
  • Rate Based on Work Hours: Accrual may be tied directly to hours worked. An employee working full-time (usually 40 hours per week) might accrue 1 hour of PTO for every 40 hours worked. This translates to accruing PTO throughout the year as they complete their work hours.
  • Tiered System Based on Tenure: Some companies offer an increased accrual rate as employees gain seniority. For example, an employee with 0-2 years might earn 10 days of PTO annually, while someone with 5+ years gets 15 days. This rewards loyalty and experience.

Employee pulse surveys:

These are short surveys that can be sent frequently to check what your employees think about an issue quickly. The survey comprises fewer questions (not more than 10) to get the information quickly. These can be administered at regular intervals (monthly/weekly/quarterly).

One-on-one meetings:

Having periodic, hour-long meetings for an informal chat with every team member is an excellent way to get a true sense of what’s happening with them. Since it is a safe and private conversation, it helps you get better details about an issue.


eNPS (employee Net Promoter score) is one of the simplest yet effective ways to assess your employee's opinion of your company. It includes one intriguing question that gauges loyalty. An example of eNPS questions include: How likely are you to recommend our company to others? Employees respond to the eNPS survey on a scale of 1-10, where 10 denotes they are ‘highly likely’ to recommend the company and 1 signifies they are ‘highly unlikely’ to recommend it.

Based on the responses, employees can be placed in three different categories:

  • Promoters
    Employees who have responded positively or agreed.
  • Detractors
    Employees who have reacted negatively or disagreed.
  • Passives
    Employees who have stayed neutral with their responses.

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