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I've seen more press than ever on unlimited vacation policy.  At first, this sounds wonderful.  Take all the time off that you want and answer to nobody, right?  Well, I don't think it's that easy.  Personally, I would hate an unlimited vacation policy.  However, I know that's because of my personal situation.  I'm curious what you think.

What Is An Unlimited Vacation Policy?

Simply put, companies with an unlimited vacation policy don't provide the standard time off allotments that we've all grown used to.  You're allowed to take what you need.  However, there are things to keep in mind.

  • You have to fulfill your work obligations.  If you don't get your work done because you're taking too much time off, you'll probably get pulled off the policy.  Or fired.
  • You have to have more awareness.  When you get an allotment of time off, the decision is made for you as to how much you can take.  When you don't have that set, you have to become aware of how people in your company, or even your own work group, handle time off.  Say nobody takes more than three weeks off?  Well, that becomes the de facto standard.  It's really only technically unlimited at that point.
  • You'll get nervous.  At least I would.  If I take a lot of time off at one time, I get pretty nervous.  After all, if I'm able to be away for long periods of time, am I needed?  Maybe my boss would start to question that.
  • Calculating total compensation is more difficult.  Your paycheck is not truly how much ‘you make'.  You have to look at other benefits.  How much is your employer kicking in for insurance? 401(k) matching?  Everything plays a part, including your time off.  If you don't have a set amount of time off, it becomes harder to quantify this.

Image from morguefile courtesy of jppi

Unlimited Vacation Would Suck For Me (At My Current Job)

Personally, I have no interest in unlimited vacation.  Thankfully I work for an organization that's not exactly cutting edge, so I'm pretty sure this won't work.  Now these are personal reasons but it shows that every situation is unique.

  • I get a lot of time off.  I've been with my company for over 10 years.  I also hired in when they had an extremely generous time off policy.  New hires don't get as much, but they haven't cut ours.  Yet.  So, I get a lot of time off.
  • We're encouraged to use it.  You've all seen the stories where people don't use their time off.  That doesn't happen here. Our organization wants us to use the time off.  That works for me!
  • Our time off translates to money.  We accrue time off where I work.  So every two weeks I get 1/26th of my annual time off added to my bank.  If I ever quit or am let go, I get paid out at my hourly rate. If I had no time off remaining, I'd get nothing.  But, what if I had banked a couple of weeks?  That'd be like an extra paycheck.  In other words, my time off holds real, actual value.  I don't see any reason to give that up.

So, while unlimited vacation raises the eyebrows, I don't think it's all that spectacular.  However, I know that every situation is different.  And, since big companies like Netflix are doing it, there has to be something to it.  Right?

Readers, what do you think of an unlimited vacation policy?  Have you ever worked somewhere with such a policy?  Would you be in favor if your current employer put it in place?  I'd be curious as to your thoughts in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.