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Unlimited Paid Time Off: The Good, the Bad, and the Maybe


Unlimited paid time off (PTO) policies are all the rave in the HR world. The idea of taking time off at will is very attractive to both employees and employers. Employees can take necessary vacation days, and employers can have confidence that employee morale is high. It’s a win-win, right?

Naysayers of unlimited vacation policies note that this benefit can actually cause employees to feel guilty for taking time off and pressure them to work more. Others maintain that because unlimited vacation policies offer no clear expectations, they can actually backfire if employees don’t know how much time to take. This only adds stress and burnout.

The best decisions are made when all assets of policy are explored. This article will explore the good, the bad, and the maybe surrounding unlimited vacation policies, as well as best practices for implementing unlimited PTO into your organization.

In addition to offering unlimited PTO, HiringThing has been a fully remote company since 2012. Check out our Remote Work Hub for all things remote work and the Remote Work Manifesto for all things HiringThing company culture.

The Good: Pros of Unlimted PTO

 At HiringThing, we’ve proudly built a work culture of personal responsibility and mutual trust, and we want our open PTO policy to reflect that. Our open PTO policy is available to full-time (salaried) HiringThing employees, and it allows them the flexibility to take time off when they need it.

  • We do not track or limit employee vacation time or sick days. We allow our employees to take off the time necessary to enable them to operate at peak performance.
  • Our employees can shift their schedules to best suit their preferred work styles.
  • Employee flexibility: Employees can enjoy workplace flexibility as long as they still inform others on specific days they will be out of the office
  • Morale boost: Employees are excited about unlimited vacation and feel empowered with the organization’s level of trust.
  • Recruitment perks: The offer of unlimited PTO can serve as an attractive benefit for new talent.

Of course, each employee must uphold many responsibilities with this type of policy. An employee must keep everyone informed in advance about the days he or she will be absent; ensure necessary projects, meetings, etc. are covered; remain available for important customer calls, staff meetings, or other time-sensitive responsibilities regardless of his or her personal work schedule; and resume the same level of productivity upon return.

The Bad: Cons of Unlimted PTO

 As an organization, it’s imperative that you clearly define the rules of your unlimited vacation policies. Lines can easily become blurred, and you and your employees may not be on the same page. Potential disadvantages of unlimited vacation policies include:

  • The need to terminate an employee for performance issues related to absences he or she was “technically” allowed to take.
  • The need to track time off to monitor abuse of the policy and remain in compliance with various regulations.
  • Unclear expectations: When employees don’t know how much vacation to take, they may not take any days off, which may lead to low morale, stress, and burnout.
  • Policy abuse: Unclear expectations may lead to misuse of the policy.
  • Vacation overlaps: Without a proper tracking system, too many employees may take time off simultaneously. This may increase stress on remaining employees, or it may negatively impact project timelines and/or customer-facing duties.
  • Manager modeling: Many employees are impressionable in the workplace and look to managers and other company leaders regarding how much vacation to take. If managers don’t take necessary vacation days, employees may do the same.

The Maybe: Unlimted PTO Considerations 

What’s Your Company Culture?

Unlimited PTO works best with organizations whose missions and work environment align with the type of mindset unlimited PTO needs. This type of policy operates most efficiently when trust, transparency, and autonomy are embedded in company culture.

Do Your Due Diligence

Before implementing an unlimited vacation policy, do your research. There are many things to consider when transitioning from a standard accrual policy to an unlimited policy, such as legal state requirements and effective development plans.

About HiringThing 

HiringThing is committed to making hiring seamless for everyone, which we call our patented Hiring Happiness®! What’s our secret? Great technology, superior implementation, and outstanding customer support.

Our award-winning ATS combines flawless integration with professional customization to empower HiringThing users to grow their teams and businesses. Want to see for yourself? Schedule a free demo!

Author: Alisiana Peters

Alisiana is a senior marketing coordinator at HiringThing, an award-winning online recruiting software provider dedicated to changing the way businesses hire talent. Questions? Contact HiringThing Marketing.