One of the best things about working full time is having the desired benefits package that goes along with being a salaried (or full time exempt, or 40 hours a week, or tenured) employee. One of the things I like best about my benefits is that I can elect where to put the amount of money my organization allocates for benefits. This means that I can choose between putting that money into a 457(b) [Deferred Compensation] plan, or take medical insurance, or any number of other insurance options (long-term care, vision care, etc.). But my absolute very favorite thing is my paid time off (PTO).
My organization used to have separate sick leave and vacation days, but the switch to PTO offers healthy, active employees a fair shake in terms of days off. And you just know that some employees would call in “sick” when it was sunny and gorgeous in June. I was using my company’s PTO calculator to track how many hours I’ll have banked before our annual family summer vacation, and realized just how many hours I can bank in a year [after having 12 years of service on the books]. Holy smokes! Let’s just say it’s way more than the average 2 weeks, and even more generous than 6 weeks. It isn’t a whole summer like teachers get automatically, but teachers also work far more than 40 hours a week for relatively low pay.
Now, obviously, if I get the flu or have my last two wisdom teeth out (pesky things) I won’t be sunning myself in Aruba for two months, but having that time will help prevent burnout. Having this benefit would also make it very difficult to voluntarily give up working where I do for another institution, unless I could negotiate for comparable time off. It would be hard to quantify what PTO is ‘worth,’ because almost no amount of salary compensation would make up for having time to relax and de-stress.