Mind The Gap: How To Fill The Shortfall Between Paid Time Off And Short-Term Disability

An extended illness bank at the Las Vegas credit union provides weeks of full-time pay for employees in need.

Top-Level Takeaways

  • One Nevada’s extended illness bank offers employees up to 320 hours of paid time off for qualifying FMLA absences.
  • Approximately 40% of employees use the benefit.

Paid time off is among the top three workplace benefits that employees value the most. That bodes well for One Nevada Credit Union ($929.5M, Las Vegas, NV), where even the shortest-tenured staffers receive 16 days of paid time off per year. More seasoned employees earn up to 26 days per year.


One Nevada Credit Union
Data as of 09.30.19

HQ: Las Vegas, NV
ASSETS: $929.5M
MEMBERS: 75,534
ROA: 1.71%

Despite the peace of mind those days off afford, employees that need to tap into a longer-term solution can find themselves in a tight space if they fall into the gap between maxing out PTO and accessing short-term disability. If an employee needs to take an extended period of leave, they must first use all of their PTO, earning their full pay while doing so. After that, they can access short- and long-term disability the former requiring an elimination period of 14 days and paying out 50% of the employee’s salary; the latter requiring 90 days and paying out 60%.

If there’s a gap in coverage between PTO and disability insurance benefits, that’s where One Nevada’s extended illness bank comes in. Employees can transfer unused earned PTO to the EIB at a ratio of 2-1, turning one hour of earned PTO into two hours in the illness bank. Then, if they need additional paid time off for an illness, they can dip into the bank.

We created the program to give our employees the opportunity to bridge the gap between the elimination periods on our disability program, says Michael Traficanti, One Nevada’s senior vice president of human resources and facilities operations.

The credit union has offered the program for more than 20 years longer than Traficanti has been with the institution and as of early January, 40% of its workers held a balance in the bank.

Why The Bank Is Open

Traficanti estimates the average tenure of a One Nevada employee is approximately 10 years, which means a large percentage of the employee base is at the top-end of the PTO scale. With 12 holidays and upward of 200 hours of PTO accrued every year not to mention busy work schedules employees don’t use all their time off.

The credit union allows employees to rollover 160 hours of PTO year-to-year, plus it buys back one week of PTO per employee during the end-of-year holiday period instead of asking employees to cram days off into December or lose those days entirely. The EIB is another solution for unused PTO.

When One Nevada initially created the EIB, it allowed employees to hold an unlimited number of hours in the bank. Today, it allows them to hold 320. It also allows employees to transfer hours into the EIB only once per year. According to Traficanti, the average balance of employees who have transferred hours into the bank was 147 hours as of early January.

Unlike with PTO, the credit union does not automatically pay out the EIB balance when an employee leaves the credit union; they must be retiring, older than 55, and employed with One Nevada for at least five years.

Who Uses The Bank

In his role as the head of human resources, Traficanti has seen firsthand how the EIB benefits employees.

Because the bank is a benefit covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employees can use their EIB balances in a variety of ways. And they have. Traficanti has seen employees take the paid time off for adoption, personal medical conditions, and even for the qualifying medical conditions of family members.

Most disability plans cover that individual’s disability, not the cost of a caregiver, Traficanti says. If your spouse is out and you must take unpaid time off to provide care, that can be a big dent in your take-home pay. With this, you qualify to take that time off and still receive 100% of your take-home pay.

The people who use it, love it. It’s a benefit that helps us attract and keep talent because it’s not something you see every day.

Michael Traficanti, SVP, Human Resources and Facilities Operations, One Nevada Credit Union

Where the bank sees particular utility, however, is with women planning for maternity leave. Some 70% of the credit union’s employees are women, who can use the EIB to take up to eight weeks off with their full salary before transitioning into short- or long-term disability.

In the future, Traficanti says, the credit union might increase the maximum number of hours employees can store in the EIB to drum up further interest. But for now, the benefit is popular and well-appreciated by those who use it, he says, and it plays a role in both recruiting and retention.

The people who use it, love it, Traficanti says. It’s a benefit that helps us attract and keep talent because it’s not something you see every day.


January 20, 2020

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