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Pros and Cons of Unlimited Vacation Policies

By William Vogeler, Esq. on December 21, 2017 2:56 PM

Everybody loves vacation time, so what possibly could be the downside of unlimited vacation?

Actually, it's not quite so simple. Employers need workers to do their jobs and they can't do it on vacation.

So with unlimited vacation time, everybody has to work together or it won't work. It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

Pros: Production, Accountability

Research shows that employees who take vacations are happier, more productive, and more engaged in their jobs. It's literally good for them.

And unlimited vacations are now a thing, especially in tech businesses and professions where the emphasis is on being productive rather than being on the job.

Biodesy, a San Francisco company, offered unlimited vacation time when it launched in 2013. Gayle Kuokka, the chief financial officer, said it has added value to the business.

"It gives people the responsibility for getting work done," she said. "People really feel a sense of responsibility to each other, and that's why we don't see abuse."

Cons: Abuse, Uncertainty

Naturally, some workers will abuse vacation time -- unlimited or otherwise. Sonya Boralv Merrill of ZestFinance remembered one staffer who took successive vacation weeks, so she asked him why.

"It turned out he was quitting," Merrill told Inc. "He wound up just coming clean on it."

Salesfusion, a marketing automation company, discovered that employees took less time off because they didn't know what to do with unlimited vacation. So the employer offered guidelines on how to arrange time off.

"It really did help to provide folks something in writing they could review," said CEO Carol O'Kelley.

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