Unlimited Vacation Time?

by Nick on February 25, 2014

unlimited vacation timeHow much vacation time do you get at your gig? 2 weeks? 3? More?

Well, according to this CNBC article, there’s a growing trend to offer unlimited vacation time.

That’s right: Unlimited. Vacation. Time.

No catch.

Is this the dream?

So far, the policy has apparently only made it to 1% of companies.

But those companies are happy with the results, finding it’s good for the employees, who haven’t taken advantage of the policy for fear of loss of reputation, and the companies, who find that employees become happier and more productive.

I have a buddy whose gig has a stated vacation policy but was truly unlimited in practice, subject to only an annual productivity budget.

Basically, the policy is: “If you hit your numbers and are generally available when we need you we don’t care how much vacation time you take. Just let us know if you’re going to be unavailable so we know to call someone else.”

The numbers are tough to hit, though. But many people take 4-6 weeks vacation or more. Some worked from the beach for a week or two, just to get the family away and enjoy the off hours, etc. And most were only “out of touch” for a week or two, while on a cruise or something.

Sounds good right? My buddy says it is, although the job is pretty demanding and stressful overall. But the flex time helped.

I’m as guilty as anyone of taking too little vacation, working while away, or at least being glued to my iPhone to get every last work update.

But truly unlimited vacation time sounds sweet – not to take “unlimited time,” so to speak, but to not have the countdown pressure or to handle things like half-day errands, school meetings, or family illness without worrying about how much time you “have left.”

Then again, I’d rather work at a place it’s fun to be at with 2 or 3 weeks vacation than someplace that’s a super-stressful j-o-b that gives me unlimited time off.

What say you?

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

J$ February 25, 2014 at 7:28 am

Yup! My last 3 companies I worked for (all startups) had “unlimited” vacation. It was awesome because just *knowing* you can take off when needed was sometimes all you ever needed. I probably took off a total of 2 weeks every year regardless, but it felt amazing that we could take off more if we wanted… Granted, some people will take advantage of it and screw over the others, but luckily we only had one of those that I can remember.

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Nick March 1, 2014 at 5:30 am

Very cool. And I agree. I suspect you end up with a great group of dedicated workers with a policy like this.

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The First Million is the Hardest February 25, 2014 at 8:24 pm

I’ve heard of companies starting to do this. I like the concept, most people won’t take more vacation than they do now anyway, and the ones who abuse it are singling themselves out to to get the axe.

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Nick March 1, 2014 at 5:34 am

Totally. My guess is it generally takes a changing of the guard or a start-up environment to put this in place, but it’ll be interesting to see how much this catches on.

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Holly@ClubThrifty February 26, 2014 at 9:31 am

The fact that I’m self-employed means that I basically have unlimited vacation time. The only problem is that I don’t get paid when I don’t work =( Because of this, I usually do some work on vacation or at least manage my blog.

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Nick March 1, 2014 at 5:35 am

You may need to add some recurring revenue sources like books, ebooks, guides, courses, etc., so you can take a paid vacation! 🙂

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Jon @ Money Smart Guides February 27, 2014 at 9:17 am

I love the idea of unlimited vacation time. It takes away a ton of stress. If you have a paid for a family vacation later this year and then have an unfortunate accident when you have to miss days here and there for doctors visits, it can be stressful to use up all of your vacation time. I think more companies should allow for unlimited vacation time. But they do have to make it clear that if the works doesn’t get done, you are out of a job. I think people would adjust well to this concept.

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Nick March 1, 2014 at 5:37 am

I agree. The little errands and appointments is where I think it would make the most difference with the employees. I could see it working with the proper intro, too.

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Poor Student February 27, 2014 at 3:53 pm

As an employee I love the idea of unlimited vacation — I think this kind of policy is especially important for emergency situations by making the employee not having to stress out about using up annual vacation time. But I don’t think it can be applied to all sorts of employment. Like the article said, for jobs that have some kind of performance metrics it’s easier to implement and make both the employer and employees happy, but for jobs that don’t have it I can see the employees might abuse this policy.

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Nick March 1, 2014 at 5:38 am

I can see that. It would be interesting to see what percentage would abuse it or whether the numbers would even out. I suspect the same people who use their vacation time by May might go a little overboard…

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Jacob March 16, 2014 at 7:17 pm

I actually hadn’t heard of this, thanks for sharing. Very interesting idea, and possibly needed since many voice concern about Americans being consumed with work…

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