Press Releases

TriNet Survey Reveals Surprising Details About PTO Benefits for U.S. Employees

  •  Millennials have lower expectations for PTO than previous generations
  • Employees with low salaries are less likely to take PTO for pleasure

SAN LEANDRO, Calif. – July 7, 2016 - A new survey released today by TriNet (NYSE: TNET), a leading cloud-based provider of HR services, underscores the importance of generous paid time off (PTO) packages for employee satisfaction.

The TriNet survey gauged the impact of various PTO benefits on workers’ behaviors and their job performance.[1] The survey found that employees consider PTO a very important part of their job satisfaction. It also found that nearly one-third of employees mainly take time off for medical emergencies, family obligations or personal obligations. Employees who take time off for these reasons earn, on average, $22,000 less per year than those who mainly take time off for pleasure.[2] Finally, the survey showed that older workers expect more time off than their younger colleagues.

Lower salary means less PTO for pleasure
The survey found that those who take time off to enjoy themselves usually have higher average salaries, while lower-salaried respondents use their time off for less pleasurable activities.

  • The average salary of respondents who said they take PTO for pleasure was nearly $76,000.
  • Those who save PTO for medical necessities, family emergencies or personal obligations earned approximately $54,000 on average per year, very close to the U.S. annual average salary of just under $53,000.[3]

The older the worker, the more time off they expect
The survey also discovered PTO requirements increase with age.

  • Baby boomers were twice as likely (26%) to say they need 4 weeks or more off from work than millennials (13%).
  • The largest share of respondents in each age group, including baby boomers (46%), generation X (45%) and millennials (56%) cited 2-3 weeks of time off a year as their ideal amount of PTO.

While millennials frequently say they want a balance of work and personal life, survey data shows they actually have lower expectations in terms of PTO compared to older generations.

PTO is essential to employee happiness and productivity
The survey found that 89% of all employees surveyed consider PTO important to their job satisfaction and count PTO packages as an important component when evaluating a new position.

The survey also indicated that duration of vacation time is critical to U.S. workers. Generous vacation packages are no longer just considered a bonus; many workers see them as a necessity.

Almost half (49%) of respondents said that 2-3 weeks is the minimum amount of time they need to have off.

  • Across all age groups, 20% said they need 4 weeks or more.

The law in the U.S. does not require paid vacation and holidays, with the exception of government contractors and subcontractors who are covered under the Davis-Bacon Act. With the absence of government requirements, almost a quarter of Americans have no paid vacation and no paid holidays (23%). By contrast, European workers receive a minimum of 20 vacation days (equal to 4 workweeks) of PTO per year under European Union law.

Workload can still stand in the way of people taking time off
Americans still let vacation days go to waste and work responsibilities often turn out to be the culprit:

  • 30% of respondents indicated that workload prevents them from taking time off entirely.
  • More than half (51%) of survey respondents said they worked at least once a day while on PTO.

The survey found that women are more likely to disconnect than men:

  • 60% of women said they never check email while on PTO, compared to only 40% of men.
  • 60% of women also said PTO was essential to their workplace happiness, compared to only 40% of men.

The survey data underscores that women are less likely to mix vacation time and work than their male counterparts.

Supporting Quotes
Jaqueline Breslin, Director, Human Capital Services, TriNet

“If employers are serious about attracting and retaining talented employees, they need to provide competitive paid time off packages that work for multiple generations and diverse personal priorities. Setting a PTO policy that meets the needs of employees doesn’t just help reduce costly employee turnover. It is imperative for maintaining company morale and ensuring your employees feel happy, energized and able to perform to the best of their abilities. This has a direct positive impact on your business’s bottom line.”

To stay connected, follow TriNet on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

For the latest HR thought leadership, subscribe to the TriNet Blog:


About TriNet
TriNet is a leading provider of a comprehensive human resources solution for small to midsize businesses (SMBs). We enhance business productivity by enabling our clients to outsource their human resources, or HR, function to one strategic partner and allowing them to focus on operating and growing their core businesses. Our HR solution includes services such as payroll processing, human capital consulting, employment law compliance and employee benefits, including health insurance, retirement plans and workers compensation insurance. Our services are delivered by our expert team of HR professionals and enabled by our proprietary, cloud-based technology platform, which allows our clients and their employees to efficiently conduct their HR transactions anytime and anywhere. For more information, please visit

Media Contacts:

Jock Breitwieser


(510) 875-7250

TriNet, Ambitions Realized and the TriNet logo are registered trademarks of TriNet. All other trademarks, service marks, registered trademarks, or registered service marks are the property of their respective owners.

[1] Survey conducted by TriNet between June 2-7, 2016, with 666 people responding. Respondents are all worksite employees of TriNet clients.

[2] Respondents who take time off for pleasure earn $76,000 per year on average; respondents who take time off for medical necessities, family emergencies or personal obligations earn $54,000 per year on average.

[3] Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015, Series ID: ENUUS00050010.

ESAC Accreditation
We comply with all ESAC standards and maintain ESAC accreditation since 1995.
Certified PEO
A TriNet subsidiary is classified as a Certified Professional Employer Organization by the IRS.