Haxin Mainframes

A blog about stuff I do, find interesting, or want to blab about..

Unlimited Vacation

I always laugh when I see jobs with unlimited vacation time. This seems like a joke to me. At any company I have ever worked for it seemed like people had vacation time rolling over from previous years or were in fear of losing it for not using it. There seems to be a guilt about using vacation time.

I personally am always worried about using mine, I have this illogical guilt. I feel like I needed to be around working as hard as possible as often as possible or else I will be viewed as a slacker. If anything having an alloted amount of vacation time is a blessing. It represents a company wide accepted amount of time for me to take off. If somone gave me “unlimited vacation time” I would never take any vacation because I would always feel like I was taking advantage, or at least like I was being percieved as un involved. It makes me wonder if companies realize this and use this “benefit” to their advantage.

I would love to hear from anyone working at a company with this benefit and hear about the politics behind using it.

Points from comments here and hacker news

It was great to see so many different points of view in the comments both here and on Hacker News. After reading a few I felt I should clairify my reasoning a little.

The “Unlimited Vacation” benefit seems to be more advantageous for companies and possibly misleading for the employees. This [article])(http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/the-exchange/unlimited-vacation-time-ultimate-benefit-160807503.html) makes the claim that with the unlimited vacation benefit the limiting factor is really “can you get your work done?” The ironic thing is that in any smaller tech company, which are the companies I see offering this, there is always work to be done. There has never been a point in the last two years where I personally felt like it was a good time to take a vacation. There has always been some feature we imminently needed. Point being, theres always work to be done so there’s rarely a good time to take advantage of your “unlimited vacation”.

It also saves the company a full paycheck or so when the employee leaves. As anemitz (a Hacker News commenter) pointed out:

“Another less likely employer benefit to be considered is that in roughly half of that U.S. states, employers must pay out accrued vacation time if there is a policy in place.

An example from California’s vacation faq (http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/faq_vacation.htm):

‘For example, an employee who is entitled to three weeks of annual vacation (15 work days entitlement per year x 8 hours/day = 120 hours vacation entitlement per year) who quits on August 7, 2002 (the 219th day of the year) without having taken any vacation in 2002, who has no vacation carry-over from prior years, and whose final rate of pay is $13.00 per hour, would be entitled to $936.00 vacation pay upon separation’ ”

By giving employees unlimited vacation time and not giving them an alloted amount of PTO it seems like the company won’t have to keep track and pay the employee for their remaining PTO when they leave.

And again, my guilt about taking a vacation. Personally, if I do not have a quantified amount of expected vacation time I will not know how much I am expected to take and probably wont take much at all.

On the other hand, as dvo pointed out:

“ It might be a great policy, and I’m sure it depends on the details of how it is implemented and the culture of the company where it is implemented… ”