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Paid leave bank

A benefit program granting employees a bank consisting of a specific number of paid days that can be used for absences related to sickness, vacation or personal reasons.


Paid time off (PTO)

A benefit program granting employees a specific number of vacation or personal days off which that are paid by the employer. The number of days is generally based on the employer’s policy for accrual of paid time off.


Paired comparison

A form of rating, in which the rater compares, one by one, the performance of each member in a group with the performance of every other member in the group.


Parental leave

A benefit designed to provide employees with approved paid or unpaid time off following the birth or adoption of a child or to care for a dependent.


Pareto chart

A bar graph used to rank in order of importance information such as causes or reasons for specific problems, so that measures for process improvement can be established.


Partial disability

An illness or injury that prevents an individual from performing one or more functions of his or her job.


Participative management

A management style, developed by Motorola, that involves employees in the decision-making process.


Part-time employee

An individual who continually works less than 40 hours per week (standard workweek hours are based on individual employer policy, therefore, a 40-hour workweek is only a guideline; this number could be higher or lower).


Paternity leave

A benefit designed to provide fathers of newborn children with paid or unpaid time off from work following the birth of the child.


Pay adjustment

Any change made to the pay rate of an employee, such as an increase or decrease to the rate of pay.


Payback agreement

An agreement between an employer and an employee used primarily for relocated employees, stating that an employee will not voluntarily terminate his or her employment with the organization for a specified duration of time, effective from the date of relocation. Failure to abide by the terms of the agreement results in the employee being responsible for paying back a portion of any and all costs incurred by the employer on the employee’s behalf. Also used by employers that pay for expensive job-related or professional development training or educational courses.


Pay compression

A situation occurring when only a small difference in pay exists between employees, regardless of their knowledge, skills, abilities or experience. Oftentimes, it is the result of a market-rate for a given job surpassing the increases historically awarded to long-term employees.


Pay grades

A method used to group jobs together that have approximately the same relative internal worth and are paid at the same rate.


Pay range

Associated with pay grades, the range sets the upper and lower compensation boundaries for jobs within that range.


Payroll records

Documentation created and maintained by the employer, which contains information regarding hours worked, salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, vacation/sick pay, contributions to qualified health and pension plans, net pay and deductions for all employees on the employer’s payroll for the year.


Pay structure

A structure of job grades and pay ranges established within an organization.  May be expressed as job grades or job evaluation points.


Peer appraisal

A performance appraisal strategy whereby an employee is reviewed by his or her peers who have sufficient opportunity to examine the individual’s job performance.


Pension plan

An employer benefit plan funded through insurance, a trust, general assets or other separately maintained funds designed to provide employees with a monthly income benefit upon retirement.


Perceived disability

A person who does not meet the definition of a disabled individual in accordance with the Americans With Disabilities Act but is regarded by his or her employer as having a mental or physical disability .


Performance appraisal

A periodic review and evaluation of an individual's job performance.


Performance-based pay

A variable pay strategy that pays employees based on their individual performance and contributions, rather than the value of the job they are performing.


Performance counseling

The process of improving employee performance and productivity by providing the employee with feedback regarding areas where he or she is doing well and areas that may require improvement.


Performance improvement plan

A plan implemented by a manager or supervisor that is designed to provide employees with constructive feedback, facilitate discussions between an employee and his or her supervisor regarding performance-related issues, and outline specific areas of performance requiring improvement.


Performance management

The process of maintaining or improving employee job performance through the use of performance assessment tools, coaching and counseling as well as providing continuous feedback.


Performance monitoring

The practice of monitoring employees while they perform their jobs through the use of surveillance cameras, telephone or computer monitoring.


Performance standards

The tasks, functions or behavioral requirements established by the employer as goals to be accomplished by an employee.



A form of incentives generally given to executive employees granting them certain privileges or special consideration, such as memberships in clubs, physical fitness programs, financial counseling, etc.


Personal days

A benefit designed to provide employees with an allotment of paid days off in addition to holidays, sick days or vacation days, which they can use to attend to personal matters.


Personality test

A test instrument usually involving a standardized series of questions that are used to evaluate an individual’s personality characteristics.


Personal protective equipment

Clothing and other work accessories (i.e., safety glasses, hearing protection, etc.) designed to create a barrier against potential workplace hazards.


Personnel records

All information pertaining to individual employees, which is collected and maintained by the employer and is essential to the employer for handling various employment-related matters.


Phased retirement

A work schedule arrangement that allows employees to gradually reduce their full-time hours over a period of time.


Physical ability test

A test instrument used to determine an individual’s ability to perform the functions or tasks of a job where physical strength or endurance is required.


Physical examination

A medical examination performed by a company physician or an independent physician to ascertain whether or not an individual is able to perform the physical requirements of a particular job.


Piece rate

A per-piece rate system that pays employees based on the number of pieces produced.


Pink slip

A written or verbal notice given to employees who are being terminated or laid-off.


Placement goals

The number of people represented as a percentage (at the beginning of a reporting period) reasonably expected to be hired/promoted to eliminate underutilization in a job group. It is generally considered a long-range goal, subject to change based on possible fluctuating total head count. 


Plan administrator

An individual or plan sponsor designated by the instrument under which the plan is operated to be responsible for the administration of pension and welfare benefit plans.


Premium only plan (POP)

Considered to be the most basic type of Section 125 plan, a POP is a benefit plan that is designed to allow employees to elect to make premium contributions on either a pre-tax or post-tax basis.



A written statement that reflects the employer’s standards and objectives relating to various employee activities and employment-related matters.


Position control

A workforce planning tool that imposes certain rules or restrictions on the creation, and filling of positions as a means to manage and control the costs associated with any given position within the organization.


Positive discipline

A disciplinary strategy geared toward reducing and improving an individual’s unfavorable behavior or conduct by rewarding positive behavior rather than focusing on and punishing negative behavior.


Positive reinforcement

The process of acknowledging specific behaviors with positive feedback, such as a smile, praise or reward.


Post-accident testing

The process of testing an employee involved in a workplace accident for the presence of drugs or alcohol.

Post- tax contributions

Contributions made to a benefit plan that are subject to applicable state or federal tax withholding requirements.



An individual who practices a learned profession.


Predictive validity

Used in the test validation process to measure the relationship between test scores and actual job performance.


Pre-employment testing

The practice of issuing tests to potential employees on a pre-employment basis in order to determine an applicant’s suitability for a certain position. These tests may include, but are not limited to, drug and alcohol tests, medical examinations, skills tests, physical agility tests, honesty/integrity tests or personality tests.


Preexisting condition

Any condition for which a person is currently receiving treatment, has been advised to receive treatment or for which a prudent person would seek treatment.


Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) of 1978

An amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibiting discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, requiring pregnancy or related conditions to be treated in the same manner as any other temporary disability.


Pre-tax contributions

Contributions made to a benefit plan that are exempt from all applicable state or federal tax withholding requirements.


Premium pay

Additional compensation paid for work performed outside of regularly scheduled work hours.


Prepaid group legal plan

A benefit plan that provides employees, their spouses or dependents with assistance in obtaining legal services, which have been prepaid in whole or in part by the employer.


Prescription drug benefits

Typically a provision included in a group health plan designed to provide covered employees and their dependents with payment assistance for medically prescribed drugs.


Prevailing wage

A rate of pay determined by the U.S. Department of Labor based upon the geographic area for a given class of labor and type of project.


Prima facie case

Latin for “at first view” or “at first appearance,” a prima-facie case is a lawsuit that requires an employer to articulate a reason that sufficiently proves that any decision or action taken was made based on legitimate and nondiscriminatory factors.



Refers to information about an employee which he or she regards as personal or private (i.e., medical information, financial data, etc.) and the right of that individual to not have such information shared with others.


Private letter ruling

A formal document issued by the Internal Revenue Service announcing tax decisions or changes.



Used as a form of discipline, it is a specified period of time during which an individual’s performance or conduct is closely monitored.


Probationary period

A specified period of time (typically 30-90 days) where a newly hired, promoted or transferred employee’s job performance is evaluated. Primarily used by supervisors to closely observe an employee’s work, help the employee adjust to the position and reject any employee whose performance does not meet required standards.


Pro forma

The term pro forma comes from the Latin phrase meaning, "as a matter of form". The term is very broad and its meaning depends on the context in which it is being used. Basically it is a term used to describe the presentation of data, usually financial statements, where the data reflects information as if the state of the world were different from that which is in fact the case.


Policy/procedures manual

A detailed written document designed to assist managers and supervisors in carrying out their day-to-day responsibilities by acquainting them with all of the organization's policies and the procedures required to implement those policies.


Process reengineering

The process of improving business practices or methods by creating and implementing new processes or making changes to existing processes.


Professional Employer Organization (PEO)

An organization that enters into a join-employment relationship with an employer, by leasing employees to the employer, allowing the PEO to share and manage many employer-related responsibilities and liabilities. Employers outsource their human resource functions, such employee benefits, compensation and payroll administration, workers’ compensation and employment taxes.


Profit sharing plan

A qualified retirement plan established and maintained by an employer which enables employees and their beneficiaries to participate in the profits of the employer's business.


Progressive discipline

A form of discipline whereby increasingly harsher penalties are awarded each time an employee is disciplined for the same or a different performance infraction or policy or work-rule violation. Generally, the sequence is an oral warning to written warnings to suspension and finally termination.



Career advancement within an organization, which includes increased authority, level of responsibility, status and pay.


Proprietary information

Information associated with a company's products, business or activities, including such items as financial data; trade secrets; product research and development; product designs; marketing plans or techniques; computer programs; processes; and know-how that has been clearly identified and communicated by the company as proprietary, a trade secret or confidential.


Protected characteristics

Legal terminology referring to areas protected by federal or state statutes.


Protected class

A legal term describing certain groups, such as women, older and disabled individuals, Vietnam-era veterans and minorities.


Psychological test

A written, visual or verbal assessment administered to determine cognitive and emotional skills.

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