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Managing employee vacation days, sick days and more 

By: Benefits by Design | Tuesday March 12, 2024

Updated : Tuesday March 19, 2024

Vacation days and sick days – also known as personal days – are an important factor in maintaining a high-functioning workforce. Employees are more engaged and productive when they have a good work-life balance. 

How Encouraging Employee Vacations is Good for Business

What’s the difference between vacations, sick days, paid time off and a leave of absence? 

Paid time off (PTO) refers to any days an employee takes off for which they are compensated. This can include but is not limited to paid vacation days, paid bereavement leaves, and paid sick or personal days off.  

Vacation days are usually booked in advance, and employees must adhere to company policies for booking and taking vacation days. However, depending on how a company structures their vacation pay, vacation days may not be considered PTO. The latter would be true when employers add vacation pay to every paycheque, rather than allowing it to accrue and paying it out when the employee is actually away. 

Sick and/or personal days work similarly in terms of whether they are considered PTO. The difference between sick or personal days and vacation days is that employees aren’t required to book them in advance. They are usually used for when employees are ill, taking care of a sick child or parent, to run personal errands or to take a mental health day. Depending on company policy, personal and sick days can be booked in advance as well – for example, if an employee has a dentist appointment. 

Lastly, an unpaid leave of absence – which can vary in length – is approved time off without pay. There are also types of leaves of absence which are paid, and they would be considered PTO. For example, parental leave, which is paid by or supplemented by the government. 

The Cost of Presenteeism and What Employers Can Do to Help

Managing employee vacation days, sick days and personal time off 

There are some key strategies businesses can employ to ensure they are adhering to their provincial rules and regulations. We strongly encourage employers to check with your provincial authority for the details if you are unsure.  

Coverage and equality 

The fine print 


[FREE DL] Employee audit checklist for your group insurance plan

Maintaining employee records and tracking vacation and PTO time 

Did you know that managers spend 54% of their time on administrative work, while they spend just 7% of their time on people development such as training and upskilling? 

Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS)s were created to help HR administrators get back some of their time. For example, Collage HR gives you a single place to manage everything from recruitment, employee onboarding, performance reviews, time-off tracking, training, HR reporting, and offboarding.  

Using Collage, employers with group benefits can also take advantage of the employee benefits syncing capabilities. The fully integrated service allows administrators to add and remove employees directly from within Collage HR.  

Group benefits administration relies heavily on the accuracy and timely submitting of information. Collage HR’s sophisticated system gives employers and employees peace of mind. New employees can be sure they won’t become a late applicant – which could result in coverage being denied or delayed. It also eliminates the possibility of terminated employees remaining on the plan. If not removed, former employees can still make claims, which affects the entire groups’ claims experience. 

There’s a lot of critical decisions to be made when it comes to handling employee vacation days and time off requests. Consequently, maintaining proper records and ensuring adherence to provincial regulations is key to getting it right. Indeed, your business will benefit through a healthier, happier workforce. 

Find out more about how Collage can help you with your people management processes

How an HRIS Streamlines Employee Benefits, Onboarding & People Processes