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The Empuls Glossary

Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

Visit Hr Glossaries

Voluntary Time Off is an arrangement where employees volunteer to take unpaid leave. Unlike mandatory layoffs or furloughs, VTO is optional and initiated by the employee, often in response to a company's request for volunteers to reduce operational costs or manage workload fluctuations.

What is voluntary time off?

Voluntary time off (VTO) is a policy allowing employees to take unpaid leave at their discretion, subject to employer approval. It is typically used for personal reasons or to handle non-work-related matters.

Do you get paid for voluntary time off?

No, employees do not get paid for voluntary time off. It is unpaid leave.

Is voluntary time off paid?

No, voluntary time off is not paid. Employees who take VTO do so without compensation during the time they are off.

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Can an employer force you to take voluntary time off?

No, an employer cannot force you to take voluntary time off. By definition, VTO is initiated by the employee. If employer mandates time off, it would not be considered voluntary.

Can you draw unemployment for voluntary time off?

Typically, you cannot draw unemployment benefits for voluntary time off because you are choosing to take leave rather than being laid off or terminated. Unemployment benefits are usually reserved for those who are involuntarily out of work.

How does voluntary time off work?

Voluntary time off works by allowing employees to request unpaid leave for a specific period. The process usually involves:

  • Submitting a request for VTO to the employer.
  • The employer reviewing and approving or denying the request based on business needs and staffing levels.
  • If approved, the employee takes the agreed-upon time off without pay.

What are the benefits of VTO?

Benefits of VTO include:

  • Flexibility for employees to handle personal matters without using paid leave.
  • Reduced payroll costs for employers during slow business periods.
  • The opportunity for employees to recharge or attend to urgent issues without losing their job.

Is voluntary time off good or bad?

The assessment of whether VTO is good or bad depends on the context:

  • For employees, it can be beneficial for managing work-life balance but may be financially challenging due to the lack of pay.
  • For employers, it can be a useful tool to manage labor costs and adjust staffing levels without layoffs.

What is voluntary time off on salary?

For salaried employees, VTO means taking unpaid leave where their salary is temporarily reduced to reflect the time taken off. It allows salaried employees to take time off without pay while still maintaining their employment status.

Is voluntary time-off mandatory?

No, VTO is not mandatory. It is an optional policy that employees can choose to use if they need unpaid leave. Employers cannot require employees to take VTO.

What is the role of voluntary time off?

The role of VTO is to provide a flexible leave option that benefits both employees and employers. It allows employees to take time off without pay for personal reasons while helping employers manage workforce levels and payroll costs during periods of low demand.

What are the benefits of voluntary time off?

The benefits of voluntary time off for employers are as follows:

  • Cost savings: Reduces payroll expenses during slow periods without resorting to layoffs.
  • Flexibility: Offers a flexible approach to managing labor costs.
  • Employee morale: Maintains positive employee relations by avoiding mandatory layoffs.
  • Retention: Helps retain skilled employees who might otherwise seek employment elsewhere.

The benefits of voluntary time off for employees are as follows:

  • Work-life balance: Provides an opportunity to take time off for personal reasons without losing job security.
  • Job security: Ensures continued employment and benefits during periods of low demand.
  • Personal growth: Employees can use the time for personal development, family commitments, or rest.

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.

How to implement a voluntary time-off Program?

To implement the VTO program are as follows:

  • Assess needs: Determine the need for VTO based on financial forecasts and workload assessments.
  • Develop a policy: Create a clear, detailed VTO policy outlining eligibility, application procedures, duration, and impact on benefits.
  • Communicate clearly: Transparently communicate the reasons for VTO and the benefits to employees, ensuring they understand the program's voluntary nature.
  • Application process: Set up a simple application process for employees to request VTO.
  • Monitor and evaluate: Regularly review the program’s effectiveness and adjust as needed.

What are the best practices for the voluntary time off program?

The best practices for the VTO program are as follows:

  • Voluntary and transparent: Ensure the program remains voluntary and maintain open communication to build trust.
  • Supportive environment: Foster a supportive environment where employees feel comfortable opting for VTO without fear of negative consequences.
  • Feedback mechanism: Implement a feedback mechanism to gather employee input and continuously improve the VTO program.
  • Legal compliance: Ensure the VTO policy complies with labor laws and regulations to avoid legal complications.
  • Document everything: Keep thorough records of VTO requests, approvals, and any communications to ensure transparency and accountability.

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