How time off policies work (for TimeAttend and TimeOff customers)

If you are using our new time off system, see this topic instead.

A time off policy is a set of rules that:

  • Determine the balance of time off available for a time off type, and
  • Automatically update that balance over time

Time off policies allow you to allot time off according to your organization’s time off policies, without having to regularly update balances manually. Policies can specify:

  • The balance as of an effective date you choose
  • Scheduled additions to the balance (accruals) and resets of the balance
  • Maximum balance and overdraw limits

Refer to Time off policy scenarios for examples of time off policies.

Setting up time off policies

To set up time off policies for end users, the following process applies.

  1. Create a default policy at the system-level for each time off type your organization uses

The default policy for each type enabled in your system will be automatically assigned to all new users you add.

Therefore, we recommend you set default policies to use your most commonly-assigned settings.

  1. Customize policies for users who the defaults don’t apply to in their user profiles

About the policy fields

Default policies can be defined for each time off type, and you can also define policies on a per user basis within user profiles. The policy fields outlined in the table below apply to both cases, unless otherwise indicated.

Field Name

This field...

Policy Type

Specifies the type of time off policy that will be assigned to new users. Available when creating system default policies for a time off type only.

  • No policies
    No policy will be assigned to new users for this time off type, although the time off type itself will be enabled for new users, providing the type is enabled at the system level
  • Initial policy only
    A single policy with the settings you specify will be created for each new user

Effective Date

Indicates the date when the policy comes into effect for the user.

For time off types with a single initial default policy, the policy's effective date will be set to the date when the user is created.

When creating a set of anniversary policies, for each policy, choose either the the user's Start Date option or a date relative to their start date (for example, one year later).


Specifies the time off balance for the type, as of the effective date.

  • Set to
    The balance will be set to the value you enter
  • Carry up to
    The preceding policy’s end balance will be the new policy's starting balance, but only up to the limit you specify
  • Previous Balance
    The preceding policy’s end balance will be the new policy's starting balance


Schedules automatic additions to the policy’s balance. You define the amount that’s added, and how often the accrual should occur.

You can choose whether the policy’s first and last accruals should be prorated.


Schedules automatic resets of the policy’s time off balance. You define the new balance that should be used, and how often the reset should occur. Choose one of the following options:

  • Set to
    After the reset, the policy's balance will be set to the value you enter
  • Carry up to
    After the reset, the policy's existing balance will be retained, but only up to the limit you enter


Specifies the following settings:

  • Policy defined in...
    Select the time unit used when creating the policy (either hours or days)
  • Limit Maximum Balance to...
    Set the maximum number of days or hours a user can accumulate for this time off type
  • Limit Maximum Overdraw to...
    Specify whether users can incur a negative balance against the time off type, and, if applicable, how large a negative balance is allowed


What happens if we don’t set up a policy for a time off type?

You have to set up a time off policy if you need to define a time off type’s balance. If a user can take unlimited time off against a type, no policy is needed.

As long as a time off type is 'allowed' for a user, they can enter time against it. If the type has no policy in effect (that is, if None displays beside Current Policy in the user’s profile), the initial time off balance will be zero.

Why does it say there is no current policy for the user even though I created one?

Check the policy’s effective date. If the initial policy’s effective date is in the future, None will display beside Current Policy in the user’s profile.

How do policies for the Banked Time time off type work?

The Banked Time time off type is used solely for banking overtime. Therefore, you cannot set it up with automatic balance accruals or resets. You can, however, manually set or reset its balance.

Can a reset and an accrual occur on the same day?

Yes. If an accrual and a reset are scheduled for the same day, the reset occurs first, and then the accrual.

You might need to set up a policy like this if, for example, time off accrues monthly on the first of the month, and resets annually on January 1st.

Do resets and accruals occur on a policy's effective date?

Resets do not occur on a policy’s effective date, since the balance has already been set using the Balance field. However, an accrual scheduled for a policy effective date will occur.

What does prorating of accruals mean?

Prorating accruals reflects the policy that time off must first be earned before it becomes available. If you prorate an accrual of 5 days that occurs annually, and the employee starts working 6 months before the accrual is scheduled to occur, they would only accrue 2.5 days for their first annual accrual. The same thing happens at the end of a policy.

If accruals are not prorated, amounts are always accrued exactly as defined in the policy.

For more information, refer to How time off accruals are prorated.

How can we prevent users from booking off time they don’t have available?

If you set the Advanced > Limit Maximum Overdraw to... field for a policy to 0, users will not be allowed to book or enter time off if they have no balance remaining.

Can I edit an existing policy’s settings to reflect changes in time off allowance?

We recommend that you do not change policy settings in existing policies to reflect a change in time off allowance. Adding new policies allows you to keep a record of the historical settings the user was assigned.


1) Not available when configuring the Banked Time time off type that is used to bank time.

Related links

About the time off versions
Time off tracking setup checklist
How time off works
Setting up time off types
Setting up time off (video)