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Which Vacation Accrual Rate to Use

Vacation time

When a company offers vacation, they have to decide on an accrual rate to use. There are a few options. Employers can offer vacation time off to match their pay periods, hand it out once a year, or provide it on an hours worked basis. The rates all have their pros and cons and one may not be the right choice for each company or each employee.

  • Once per year – Employees get their total yearly time off hours handed to them at once, either at the first of the year or on their anniversary date.
  • Per pay period – This accrual rate will be set to match the pay period which will be either, monthly, bi-monthly, weekly, or bi-weekly.
  • Per hours worked – Time off can be calculated based on the number of hours employees worked in the pay period.

You can learn about how to calculate these accruals rates here. The best way to calculate accruals, though, is to let someone else do it for you! Online accruals tracking is easy.

Some Facts About the Different Accrual Rates

Yearly vacation accrual rate

Giving employees their full time off benefits once per year is probably the most common accrual method. It doesn’t require any complicated calculations and you only have to deal with it once per year.

  • It is easy to calculate and track.
  • It’s nice for employees to have all their time off available at once for vacations.
  • If employees leave the company, they might be owed a full year’s worth of vacation payout. Not all states require that employees be paid out their time off benefits at termination but some do.
  • With this method, there is usually a year’s wait for benefits to apply. During the first year, then, employees don’t have any vacation time to use at all.

Vacation accrual by pay period

Regardless of which of the four pay frequencies a company uses, the accrual rate can be set to match.

  • Employees can start accruing their time off as soon as they start working. They still have to wait a year to accrue their full vacation benefits, but they would be free to take shorter vacations in the first year.
  • When vacation benefits are accrued by the pay period, the employee only has as much available time off as they have earned. If the employee needs to be terminated and vacation paid out, the pay out would not exceed their actual time off earnings.
  • You have to calculate the accrual rates to figure the amount that should accrue each pay period. This takes a little more work than simply handing out a set amount once a year. With an automated accruals tracking system, however, you really don’t have to think about it at all. Just plug in your numbers and walk away.

Vacation accrual by hours worked

Calculating vacation benefits by the number of hours an employee works is a good rate for part-time employees that don’t work a set schedule. Pulling a number out of a hat for an employee that works 40 hours some weeks and 10 others doesn’t make much sense. So calculating the time off by hours worked ensures employees earn a fair amount of time off.

  • Part-time employees will accrue fewer vacation hours than a full time employee would get if given vacation time once a year.
  • Figuring out the accrual rate is based on an employee that works full time, so it can be a little confusing to start.
  • This rate needs to be multiplied against the employee’s hours worked each pay period and so is the most complicated rate to use, unless you’re using an automated system to track accruals. Then you can just set it and forget it.

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