How many vacation days do you have left this year? If you can’t answer that without checking with HR or payroll, start tracking your paid time off including vacation, bonus, floating, personal days, and company holidays. There are many ways to keep track of your paid time off usage. The latest and best way is with the free VacationCounts web app for desktop and mobile. Track the number of days off you earn, along with how you allocate them toward each vacation, so you never lose valuable time off.
The Vacation Tracker Spreadsheet (template) created by the team at VacationCounts has been extremely popular for many years. It is a simple way to organize your time off benefits using Google Sheets. While the 2019 edition is still available to edit for your own usage, the new VacationCounts app is the ultimate paid time off tracking replacement.
As a web-based app, VacationCounts was designed to run in your desktop browser and to display a mobile-friendly experience on your iPhone or Android device (no app store install required). That way you can see your paid time off (PTO) status at a glance and mark off when you decide to take vacation days at home or on the go.
Year after year you’ll be able to document your time off benefits earning and usage patterns in order to optimize your work-life-vacation balance. There is no app store install required to launch VacationCounts so get started today.
The first official release of VacationCounts (now out of beta) includes the Time Off tracking feature for everyone. As a purpose built tool for managing your employee time-off benefits, it goes beyond what a general purpose spreadsheet can offer.
To get started login to My VacationCounts using your Google Account and click the “Time Off” button on the toolbar to set it up.
Before you can start tracking your days off usage totals, you need to enter your time off benefit earnings for the year. VacationCounts supports 5 categories of “days off” to track and take. Select the total number of days off you’ll earn for the calendar year in each category using the slider control.
Enter the number of vacation days you will earn for the whole calendar year even if you don’t receive the full allocation on January 1st. That way you can plan ahead by scheduling vacations for later in the year. Move the slider to the number of full days off you’ll have off this year. So if you have a typical 2 weeks of vacation at your job, that’s 10 days. 3 weeks equals 15 days and 4 weeks get you 20 vacation days.
Keeping a list of your official company holidays is essential to taking more time off during the year. You may not get a lot of paid vacation days, but leveraging paid holidays can take you a bit further. Scroll down to the Editing My Holidays section which explains how the app tracks observed holiday dates at your place of employment.
Does your company offer “personal” days off as part of your time off benefits? Some companies offer one or two paid personal days off which are accrued and can be used for “personal” reasons. Your HR handbook should explain how you can elect to use them and if they can be added to vacation days and holidays periods. A more common trend is have a combined PTO bank which includes vacation and personal days so you won’t necessarily track them separately. However if you are entitled to a set number of personal days each year, move the slider to account for them.
The floating day category is useful for a few time off benefit scenarios. Some jobs offer floating holidays which can be taken whenever you want. This helps accommodate people who may want to celebrate different religious holidays and traditions than is typically offered. Companies may also offer floating days for less common holidays like Columbus Day when it may not otherwise be an official school or federal holiday. Making it a floating day means you don’t lose a holiday, though there may be strict rules on how and when you can take it.
The final category of paid time off in VacationCounts is for bonus days. This label is used to track extra days off that you earn throughout the year. It could be given for overtime crunch work, traveling for business on a weekend, or perhaps as a reward for a major accomplishment or milestone. Employers may gift bonus vacation days in addition to or instead of a raise, especially when you prefer bonus vacation time over bonus money. Consider asking whether you can buy additional vacation days if you have a major trip planned, sort of like a sabbatical. Regardless, whenever you earn an extra day off for any reasons, add it to this count.
A PTO type bank system is becoming much more common, approaching 50% on average across public and private workers in the USA according to a recent WorldatWork study. If this is what your job offers you won’t likely be receiving and tracking personal and floating days. All your PTO days should get tracked in the “Vacation Days” category since you can use them for vacation or any purpose.
However you may wish to set aside a few days for sick and personal reasons if you know from experience that you’ll need the flexibility to take a day off occasionally. It’s up to you, so consider whether you prefer to allocate them separately or to use the “Personal Days” category to track days you’ve set aside for personal reasons. As a reminder to yourself, add a brief description of your PTO breakdown in the notes text box on the Employee Time-Off Benefits setup screen.
There’s a reason why the writers here think an unlimited vacation policy is an unfortunate trend for people who truly value their time off work. While it can work well in a handful of industries and work environments, having a fixed number of earned vacation days (that you’ll get paid for if you are laid off or quit your job) is the norm throughout the world.
To track unlimited vacation day accrual in VacationCounts, you’ll have to enter the number of days that you EXPECT to take in the calendar year. That way you can allocate them one-by-one toward vacations as you wish and track progress. If for example you entered 15 days of vacation as an estimate and decide that you want to take an extra week this year, simply go back in Annual Paid Days Earning edit mode. You can slide the Vacation Days count to the new value to modify your paid leave benefits at any time.
You may have rolled over days from the previous year if your company allows that (read: never lose your vacation days to rollover policy). While there are surely rules about when you must use these by in the new year, make sure track them in VacationCounts just like a regular vacation day. Add the rollover day count to your Vacation Days total along with a few notes to explain.
On the Time Off Setup page, click the “Edit Company Holidays” button to store your own work holidays list. It’s quick to add holidays from the list of U.S. federal government holidays for the current year or add your own custom dates for your employer and country. Also included is a handy set of resource links to global holiday calendars. This includes sites that list official holidays by year for the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and Ireland. Rest assured that you can add any dates you choose to be tracked as company holidays.
Regardless of whether you work in the US or any other country, use the common holidays pick list as a quick start. It includes the most popular holidays that Americans enjoy as a day off, but several are common worldwide. Consult your employer handbook and tick off all the matching holiday names and dates from the scrolling list to add to your “My Holidays at Work” table. Refer to the custom holiday date box to add what’s missing.
Feel free to enter the rest of your holidays for the selected year from the calendar picker in the “Add Custom Holiday Date” box. This should be be used to enter all the holidays observed at your place of employment in your country. Get out your list of holidays to double check the dates and details. For each holiday that you didn’t add automatically, enter the name, description, and observed date. Click the “Add Holiday” button to move it onto your saved list. Repeat these steps for each official holiday that you have the day off to complete your list.
TIP: Do you get your birthday as a day off from work? Track it here as a holiday as well.
There is no purpose in storing your time off benefits if you don’t also track how and when you are taking days off from work. Once you’ve completed the setup steps, you can begin entering vacation usage numbers. Allocate days off for every vacation that you have taken so far this year or have gotten approval to take later in the year. Your goal is to use every paid day off how and when you wish. That is why the app makes it simple to track your per vacation and total time off usage numbers on a yearly basis.
Click the “Take Time Off” button to allocate days to a vacation.
If you have not already added the named vacation to “My Vacations” list, complete this step first. Now you’ll be able to select any vacation by name from the dropdown list for the selected year. Enter the number of vacation days, holidays, floating and personal days, and bonus days off that you are taking. The take time off feature will prevent you from trying to take more days off than you have remaining.
A summary of your time off usage totals appears at the top of the Time Off Tracking section. It shows how many days you’ve taken this year sorted by category.
In addition you can refer to the Time Off Benefits tables at the top to see a visual display of your days off granted, taken, and remaining. The time off icons show how you’re doing. Come back to the app every month to review your benefit statistics, plan for upcoming vacations, and make sure you are using all your paid time off throughout the year.
The app can track your vacation days starting with the year 2018 and moving forward to 2019 and years to come. Towards the end of the current year the next year will automatically appear on your Time Off page. That is when you can start tracking granted and rolled over vacation days into the new year. When editing and viewing your time off accruals and usage, make sure the correct year is selected using the links at the top. By default the current year is always active when using VacationCounts to track taking your time off work.
By using VacationCounts to track your time off year after year, you’ll be in a better position to measure your work-life-vacation balance accomplishments. Hopefully your vacation benefits will increase over time and you’ll continue to negotiate for and get promoted to a higher level of paid time off at your place of work or when you get a new job offer.
Make it a habit starting now to track your vacations and time off benefits to feed your Time Off Dashboard charts and graphs.