I am in a specialty position within my company and I just finished our yearly review process where I received very high marks.

But I'm wondering how you can reconcile a slightly lower salary (per widely available salary surveys) with the company time off policy. I am underpaid by about 5-7k dollars but my company offers a really good PTO policy; this year, I will have 22 days of time off added to my carryover from last year of 6 days. That's all in addition to sick time and 10 national holidays. Bottom line, I will have nearly 2 months of paid leave this year.

Is it fair to count the time off in my salary calculations? Do salary surveys take time off into account when calculating the total compensation?

  • 1
    Bottom line is, PTO or without it, do you feel underpaid? If yes then consider asking for a raise; not sure about the usefulness of determining if such calculation is "fair" (to whom?) or not. Now, about surveys taking that into consideration that would depend on each survey and the questions they ask.
    – DarkCygnus
    Jan 14, 2019 at 22:18
  • 1
    That's two questions in one (Is it fair ... and Do salary surveys take time off into account ... ) What do you want? In spherical vacuum, what would you have? Jan 14, 2019 at 22:42
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    It's not quite clear what you're asking. Are you asking whether you should include PTO in deciding whether you're "underpaid"? If you have another offer, you should decide whether you prefer that job, with its salary and benefits package, to your current one. What people on the internet's preferences are aren't really relevant. If you don't have another offer, then this is all rather theoretical. Jan 14, 2019 at 23:36
  • When you're looking for your next job, the overwhelming and primary piece of information that determines your next job, is your "headline salary" on your current job. In answer to your question, only the "headline salary" means anything, nobody cares about the asterisks.
    – Fattie
    Jan 15, 2019 at 12:53
  • 2 months of paid leave meant you worked for 10 months. Are you getting paid 3,5k per month (7K by two)? If yes, then you are making the same money. If more then you are making even more money, if less then you are in the loss. Jan 16, 2019 at 9:50

3 Answers 3


Is it fair to count the time off in my salary calculations?

That is entirely up to you and what compensation package you want. If time off means you get to spend more time doing whatever else you, personally, value doing, and that's more important to you than money, it might be reasonable. If you would only spend the time sitting around bored because you can't afford to do anything interesting, you'd be better off with a higher salary instead. That's your choice.

By way of example, for most of 2017/8 I worked only three days a week. I used my days off to attempt (unsuccessfully!) to become a professional author, which I was happy to trade for a 40% pay cut in my "main" but part-time job. Had I not had that goal to aim for, no amount of time off would have made up for a pay cut of that size; but it was right for me, at that time in my career.

Do salary surveys take time off into account when calculating the total compensation?

You'd have to check the details of the salary in question, but ordinarily: no.

Salary surveys are usually just about money and don't consider time off, benefits, pension, stock options, etc.; let alone more nebulous concepts like commute distance, whether the company is fun to work for, whether they work in an interesting industry, etc. All of those things might affect the choice of where to work, but is not normally considered in a survey looking at salary alone.


For an easy, if not necessarily particular accurate approach: divide your salary by the actual number of hours that you work, after subtracting the PTO. Do the same for an average salary and average amounts of PTO. Compare the resulting numbers, to see how your pay for the work that you're actually doing varies from the average.

  • Did you really intend to have "hourly" in "hourly salary"? Jan 14, 2019 at 23:32
  • Oops, no I didn't. The first version of the answer had "calculate your hourly salary by...", and I failed at fixing it. Jan 14, 2019 at 23:55

First you should ask yourself - Am I looking for money, or specific work / life balance?

Every position has its own specific perks/hardships list

If the salary is lower than the industry-wide standard (which is a completely statistical value that is kinda deceptive if you count money only), resulting in more time off that you can handle, why not take on a project or two as freelancer?

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