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Founders Findings: PTO versus Vacation versus Absence
Published: 02.25.2019

Within our own businesses, we used to have paid time off banks for vacation and paid time off banks for being absent (sickness, etc)

We made a change so that now we have one bank of days earned called Paid Time Off. If you are going on vacation or if you were sick, it pulls from the same bank of days / hours. This change was a win for our team as it allowed for much more flexibility than the separate banks.

Even with this change, there is still complication in understanding time away from work. In this information, we are going to attempt to clear up some of this confusion.

  • What is a Vacation:
  • Vacation is time requested ahead of time to be away from work
  • Vacation needs to be approved by leadership
  • Vacation time away from work can be paid, or in some cases unpaid


What is an Absence:

  • Absences occur when you are supposed to be at work, but without approval, you were not
  • Absences can be paid or can be unpaid


What is Paid Time Off:

  • Paid Time Off occurs when you are not at work, however you are still being paid
  • Paid Time Off can be for Vacation (i.e. pre-planning that you will not be at work)
  • Paid Time Off can be for an Absence (i.e. you were supposed to be at work, but you were not)

To Summarize:

  • Were you at work falls into two categories: Vacation and Absences
  • Were you paid for not being at work is determined by your Paid Time Off

As we started to define these in our business it helped the clarity of what we were talking about with our team.

Within our team we were struggling with the process portion of these functions. We developed tools in honeybeeBase to aide in making these processes more efficient.

Prior to honeybeeBase, we were working with paper at our 50+ Subway locations. Absences were being tracked in an employee file and had to be passed from location to location if someone transferred. Vacations were being passed from the location to our home office for approval. This was happening by fax or mail and they could easily be lost. Paid Time Off accruals were being tracked centrally by our Accounting team, and if anyone wanted to know their balance, they had to call our Accounting team for a balance check. We had to find a better way.

Within honeybeeBase, our team can now:


  • Employee can request vacation
  • If approval is needed for their vacation, it will notify their manager for approval
  • Once approved the employee can be notified


  • Central tracking so all management and Human Resource can access the records
  • Files can be attached to document the absence

Paid Time Off:

  • Ability to set up multiple banks of Paid Time Off
  • Auto Accruement to save Accounting/HR time


Absences, Vacation, and Paid Time Off are very important topics within the team. Handling them with respect and open communication is vital. Within our own team we have worked out terminology that prevents confusion as we talk about these subjects. Now we can use that common vernacular and the technological efficiency of honeybeeBase to allow us to handle these sensitive topics with the care and attention they deserve.

Let us know at blog@hbb.buzz if you have handled these items differently within your team and what you have learned.


Wayne Nonnamaker is a founder of honeybeeBase and is a partner in the family business of operating 50+ Subway restaurants.

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