This is really just a different take on Lilienthal's answer. I may end up deleting this. But I think there is enough new information here that may help.
Is it common for companies to give just PTO time, and not provide employees separate amounts of time to take for sick leave?
Yes, this is becoming very common. The general idea from a employers perspective is that the employees no longer have to lie about getting sick. They can just take time off. Employers no longer have to keep track of why you were out. They don't need to verify sick leave with doctors etc.
For example, if you have "explosive diarrhea", there is no reason to go to the doctor. You just need to stay in bed, drink fluids, and don't go back to that sushi bar. But at the same time, no one want's you to come into work.
For more extensive medical issues FMLA takes control in the US. There are legal requirements and medical requirements. But for a simple flu, or stomach ache, cold etc. just stay home and get better.
What employers realized is the culture (there are many here in the US.) dictates different practices on when to go to the doctor, when to seek help, and what information to share with "the boss". Trying to force all cultures into one set of rules doesn't work well.
From the perspective of vacation days, many parents (for example) would take "vacation days" to take kids on field trips or school activities, etc (including doctors). They would run out, and start taking sick days. Same for singles and people without children. Run out of "time off" just take sick days. There is no way the employer can really prove that your not sick.
So, they (employers) favor combining the days. Here take 30 days a year. We don't care why. Do what you need to do.
From the employee perspective, it makes a lot of sense. Most people what to be honest, but if they have to make a decision between, using our earlier example, taking care of their kids, or lieing to their boss. Easy choice. For most employees this removes that problem.
Is this something that I should consider when evaluating how much I'm being compensated in future positions?
110% YES!!!! This is your vacation time. Rather you can reward your self by taking a 3 week vacation or a 6 week vacation is a serious consideration.
You also need to consider your other life balance issues. This "PTO" style approach allows you to take days off for what ever reason. Even if it's just spending more time with the family. Maybe you need to get your car fixed and want to take a day off to focus on that. Maybe you just want to sit around the house in your fat people pants and eat ice cream, go for it. Take a "you day" that's what it's there for. How many paid "you days" is a huge part of a benefits package.
For example a company that only gives 10 days PTO in a year. Is that even going to be enough to cover the times you get sick? Let's assume you never get sick, that's a 2 week vacation taken all at once. One sick day, or one day where you come in for the second half and use your PTO for the morning, and now you don't get a 2 week vacation. This is pretty strict.
Another example is a company that allows 60 days a year. (obviously these are polar extremes). Now you get a "free day" a week and still can take some sick time.
While they are a bit extreme, it's a good example. Which company do you want to work at. The one where every Friday is a paid day off, or the one where you never get a vacation if you catch a cold?
Other things to look for
Because your new to PTO here are some things to look for.
- Is it hours our days. I prefer hours, as a boss, I can deduct those hours if people are late. As an employee I can use those hours to cover things like going to the bank or doctor without missing an entire day. Your preference may very.
- Do you get time per year or does it add up over time. Some systems give 8 hours per 3 weeks (for example) some give 20 days per year. Make sure you understand how it adds up.
- Understand how it carries over. Some companies pay out unspent time, but this is rare. Most is "use it or loose it." Some allow for carry over.
- Be aware of what happens when your out. High turn over jobs may fire you if you start missing days not covered by PTO. Some may just not pay. Some may offer flex time of some kind. I favor (as a boss) no flex time. "You were supposed to be here at 9 why you messin' up the schedule?" as an employee flex time is awesome. A lot will depend on position an staffing but make sure you understand. (A office that is open from 9 to 5 may be more reluctant to offer flex time, a factory position that spans many shifts may love flex time if you can cover many positions)
- Be aware of how time on the job effects PTO. May old "vacation days" systems gave more vacation days the longer you were with the company. Make sure, if that's something you want, that your PTO days go up as well.