5.3 Paid Time Off Program (USA Health Division Only)

This section of  the  Staff  Employee  Handbook  is  divided  into  three parts. Section 5.1 includes policies and practices applicable for all benefits- eligible staff employees.  Section  5.2  includes  specifics  about the University’s traditional leave program for time off. Section 5.3 includes specifics about the USA Health’s Paid Time Off (PTO) Program for staff employees in hospital and designated clinical positions.

Applicable only to benefits-eligible hospital and designated clinical staff employees in the USA Health Division.

The PTO Program is offered as a benefit to full and part-time benefits-eligible hospital and designated clinical staff employees because it provides greater scheduling flexibility for employees and supervisors while managing operational requirements. The PTO Program provides you with earned paid time  away  from  work  that you can use for vacation, sick, holiday observance and personal leave. Staff employees  who are not eligible for benefits and temporary employees are not eligible for PTO.

Full-time benefits-eligible employees described in 5.3.1 above, employed before October 1,  2010, accrue PTO hours as follows:

Years of Service Days Monthly Accrual Rate
0 –5  years  (0–60 months)  25   2.08 days per month
5–10 years (61–20 months)  31   2.58  days  per month
10 or more years (121+ months) 35   2.92 days per month

Full-time benefits-eligible employees, employed on or after October 1, 2010, accrue PTO hours as follows:

Years of Service Days Monthly Accrual Rate
0 –5  years  (0–60 months)  25   2.08 days per month
5–10 years (61–20 months)  29   2.42  days  per month
10 or more years (121+ months) 33   2.75 days per month

Benefits-eligible part-time employees accrue PTO on a prorated basis. For new hires, accruals begin on the initial date of employment.

PTO hours are earned for all hours worked up to 40 hours per work week while the employee is in an active pay status.

Limits  apply to the amount of PTO that can be maintained as a balance, carried forward from one fiscal year to the next and paid out upon termination of employment.

At the end of each fiscal year, unused PTO balances may be carried forward to the next year.

However, PTO balances cannot exceed 480 hours (60 days) at the end of the last day of the last pay period of each fiscal year (prorated based on FTE). If applicable, any additional hours above 480 will be forfeited. For biweekly paid employees, year-end balances are final on the last day of the last pay period of the fiscal year. For monthly-paid employees, year-end balances are final on September 20.

Each employee has different needs for time off work. You are encouraged to consider your personal needs for time off and plan to use your PTO hours accordingly. PTO hours are to pay you when you are absent from work for pre-approved absences such as holiday observance, vacation, personal business, maternity/paternity leave, etc. PTO hours are also used for unexpected or emergency situations such as sudden illness, injuries and accidents. To the extent  possible, PTO hours must be requested and approved by supervisors in advance. The amount of advance notice required varies by departments depending upon operational needs.

Supervisors will attempt to schedule/approve PTO requests in a manner which balances the operational and service delivery needs of the department with the time off preferences of employees. However, supervision may deny PTO requests which might have an adverse effect on operations or if unexpected circumstances arise which require the employee’s attendance at work. This may include PTO requests during the resignation notice period (see Section 2.3.4 Resignation)

In the event of illness or emergency that prevents you from requesting PTO in advance, you must notify your supervisor in accordance with departmental guidelines.

PTO hours may be used in one-quarter hour (15 minute) increments for  non-exempt  employees. PTO  hours are to be recorded as they are used. Hours taken will be charged against the employee’s PTO balance at the end of the pay period during which it was taken.

Accrued PTO must be used, if available, before time off is taken without pay. You may not borrow PTO time  in  advance; however, with the approval of your supervisor, you  may take time off without pay if no PTO time is available.

USA Health system staffing is based on patient census/volume and acuity. When patient census/volume is low, management reserves the right to reduce staffing according to patient needs. When this occurs, staff may be sent home or their shift may be canceled. Affected employees may elect to use PTO or take the time off without pay.

During the 90 days of FML, the following use of PTO applies: If the purpose of the leave is your own serious illness or maternity/paternity leave, you will be required to first use 40 hours of PTO. Thereafter, PTO use is voluntary. However, employees may not use PTO hours (if available) to extend maternity leave beyond 90 calendar days.

If the purpose of the leave is to care for a seriously ill family member, the birth or adoption of a child, to care for a newborn child or the foster care placement of a child; due to the active duty status of a family member, or to provide care of a covered service member, you must use PTO.

Unless you have PTO available and either elect or are required to utilize it, any FML will be unpaid.

Employees hired prior to October 1, 2010, may have Extended Employee Illness (EEI) hours. If applicable, these hours may be used when all three of the following conditions are met:

  1. only for your own illness or injury, AND
  2. after the first 40 consecutive hours of an illness/injury or leave for pregnancy (based on FTE) AND
  3. with your treating physician’s certification.

USA Health eligible staff employees in the PTO program may elect each November to cash out up to 80 unused PTO hours. Employees are required to have a minimum of 80 hours of PTO (prorated based on PTO) remaining in their account at the time Payroll calculates the amount available for payment.

The cash out payment cannot exceed 80 hours, is paid at 100% of the employee’s hourly rate at the time of calculation, and is prorated based on FTE at the time of calculation. An employee must be in an active employment status and in a PTO eligible position, at the time of the annual payment, to be eligible for the cash out payment.

An election form must be submitted electronically with cash out payments paid in August of the following year. Minimum cash out is 8 hours.

IRS rules necessitate that employees make irrevocable elections with respect to items of income in the tax year prior to the year in which the income was earned which includes electing voluntary payment for PTO hours. Cashed out PTO hours are limited to the hours actually earned from January 1 through the official cash out date. If the elected cash out exceeds the number of PTO hours actually earned, the cashed out hours will be limited to the hours earned, up to a maximum of 80 hours. Also, in accordance with IRS rules, no exceptions are permissible.

Deductions for Federal Tax, Alabama State Tax, Social Security Tax and Medicare Tax will be withheld, subject to the applicable percentages, along with required tax levies, garnishments and student loan repayments. Employees that have claimed exempt on Federal and/or State taxes will have taxes withheld unless no income tax has been withheld from regular wages of the employee during the calendar year of the payment or the preceding calendar year.

All leave reports must be completed and approved in order to receive a PTO cash out.

If you were hired before January 1, 2012, and you are a regular, full-time or eligible, regular, part-time employee and you leave USA Health, you may receive payment  for up to a maximum of 320 unused accrued PTO hours.

Employees employed before January 1, 2012, are not eligible to be paid for PTO hours upon separation of employment when:

  • The employee is within his/her probationary period or has been employed for less than six months.
  • The employee is terminated for violation of policy/rules or misconduct.
  • The employee is not eligible for rehire (to include, but not limited to three day/shift no call/no show, improper resignation notice, etc.).

If you were employed on or after January 1, 2012, you are not eligible for payment  of unused accrued PTO hours upon separation of employment. This includes resignations, terminations and retirements. Exceptions may be made for employees hired after January 1, 2012, who are laid off.

The following policies provide guidance on continuity of operations during emergency or extreme weather situations: 

USA Health:

Continuity of Operations Plan for guidance during emergency situations 

Children's & Women's Hospital:

External Disaster/Weather Event - General Overview of Dept Functions

External Disaster/Weather Event Plan - Dept & Staff Responsibilities

University Hospital:

Severe Weather Procedure (Severe Storm, Tornado, Hurricane, Flooding)

Emergency Operation Plan