Carnegie Mellon University

Paid Time Off

The university provides regular, full-time staff members with Paid Time Off (PTO). You may use PTO to take days off for vacation, illness, personal time or to care for dependents. On this page:


  • PTO is available to regular, full-time staff members. Full-time staff members whose employment terms are for four months or less are not regular full-time staff members.
  • Union members' PTO accrual schedules may differ. Union members should speak with their union representative for PTO information specific to their union contract.
  • Benefits-eligible full-time staff in California should refer to the California Staff Handbook [pdf] and the California Paid Sick Leave Law [pdf] for their PTO guidelines.
  • Employees working in New York City should refer to the New York City Paid Time Off and Sick Leave Protocol [pdf] for additional PTO guidelines.

PTO Accrual

  • PTO is earned on an employment year basis, and is earned on the first day of each month.
  • Unused PTO may be carried over to the next employment year, up to your annual PTO allowance. (Excess unused PTO will be placed into a reserve sick bank to be used during short-term disability. Reserve sick days are not paid out upon separation from the university. Visit the Paid Time Off Policy for more information on carryover of PTO.)
  • PTO days are not earned during any leaves of absence. (If you are on a leave of absence the first day of a month, PTO will not accrue for that month.) You will resume earning and accruing PTO on the first day of the month following your return to work. (If you return to work on the first of the month, you will resume earning PTO on that day.)
  • Part-time employment years in which the employee worked at least 1,000 hours will count as one year of employment for PTO accrual purposes.

Accrual Schedule

Years of Service PTO Earned Per Month Maximum PTO Earned Per Year
Up to & including year 3 1.42 days 17
beginning year 4 1.67 days 20
beginning year 8 2.08 days 25
beginning year 16 2.50 days 30

Using PTO

  • Except in the case of illness or emergency, PTO days must be scheduled in advance and are subject to approval by your supervisor.
  • Employees may not use PTO before it has been earned without departmental approval. (Deficit PTO days will be deducted from your final paycheck.)
  • Upon separation from the university, you will be paid for earned but unused PTO (up to your annual entitlement) subject to the provisions of the university's Paid Time Off Policy.
  • PTO may be used concurrently with other types of leave. University holidays, floating holidays and leaves of absence are not part of the Paid Time Off Policy.
  • If you are separating with the university, your last day worked cannot be a PTO day. You must be actively working on your last day with the university unless you are on an approved leave of absence.

What is an employment year and anniversary date for PTO purposes?
A staff member’s employment year and anniversary date (PTO Anniversary Date) for PTO purposes are determined by their date of hire. PTO is accrued on the first calendar day of each month following an employee’s date of hire. For example, if a staff member was hired on February 16, their PTO anniversary date would be March 1 of each year. Their employment year for PTO purposes is from March 1 through February 28 of each year.

Can I carry over accrued and unused PTO from the previous employment year?
Yes. CMU does allow accrued and unused PTO to be carried over into the next employment year.

How much accrued and unused PTO can I carry from the previous employment year?
Based on your years of service, eligible employees are allotted a certain amount of PTO accrual each year. The balance carried over may not exceed your annual PTO entitlement. PTO entitlement means the maximum amount of PTO earned per year. To illustrate this, please see the examples below.

Example 1:

  • Hire Date: 2/15
  • PTO Anniversary Date: 3/1
  • Years of Service: 10
  • Annual PTO Entitlement (based on 7.5 hour day): 187.50 hours
  • PTO Balance as of 2/28/2023: 200 hours
  • PTO moved into RSD bank on 3/1/2023: 12.5 hours

Example 2:

  • Hire Date: 4/10
  • PTO Anniversary Date: 5/1
  • Years of Service: 3
  • The employee doesn't use any PTO during their first year of employment.
  • On 5/1 of the following year, they still have 17 days of PTO in their bank. This is their maximum accrual so they can carry all 17 of these days into Year 2.
  • On 5/1 the following year, the employee uses PTO leaving 23 days in their PTO bank.
    • 17 of those days can move with them into Year 3.
    • 6 days will move to their Reserve Sick Day bank.

For more information on how anniversary dates and years of service are calculated, check out Understanding Service Dates in Workday [pdf].

What happens to the accrued and unused PTO that cannot be carried over?
Any PTO that exceeds your annual entitlement for the employment year is moved into your Reserve Sick Day (RSD) bank. Excess PTO that has been moved to the RSD bank can be used by an employee who has an approved Short Term Disability (STD) claim. This time is a safety net that can be used in place of 60% STD pay allowing for receipt of 100% of salary for any RSD hours used. A maximum of 130 days can be accumulated in someone’s RSD bank. In most instances (unless someone already has 130 days in the RSD bank), staff do not lose PTO per se; the excess PTO simply gets moved to the bank of RSD that can be used by someone on STD.