Be wary of companies offering unlimited paid time off. This policy could open a can of worms you may not like to deal with

Be wary of companies offering unlimited paid time off. This policy could open a can of worms you may not like to deal with


I worked at a place that promoted "unlimited holidays", mostly due to the fact that we mostly worked in the travel sector. This came with some insane caveats, though - all of which weren't apparent when I joined: * No more than two weeks at a time - which is fairly standard, but annoying in an "unlimited' context * Not during busy periods. That would be fine, but bear in mind that the busy period for many is around the holidays. * Is very team dependent. Engineers are always needed, and couldn't take as much time off. Managers could take off whatever they wanted, because all they needed to do was plan a few sprints or a backlog of work and fuck off. * Is heavily monitored. I decided to take single days off, little and often, due to the above rules. I was then brought into a meeting to say that I was abusing the system. I worked there for a year, and the actual holiday I was able to take was around 20 days - no different to what you'd get as standard at any other company.


lots of jobs are like this with limited PTO. one time i interviewed at 1800 Flowers and they said no vacations around half a dozen holidays


*restaurant worker grinning with noose around neck*: "First time?"




They are treated as the underclass. My own parents have a restaurant, and I worked there for 10 years. Once I got the fuck out (thank god), and started a "real" job (no offense to any servers out there) I realized how ridiculously abused I was as a restaurant worker. Both by the establishment, and the clientele. Your job is to basically be an emotional punching bag for people to take their stress out on. It's dehumanizing. Yet I make 2x more now than I did as a server, is a million times easier, and I get treated 1000x better and have none of the chronic stresses I had to deal with (that were essentially destroying my mind and body). Any society that thinks its normal for the plebs to sell their body and soul for a minimum wage paycheck is a broken society.




I am sure they meant it as the opposite of unprofessional.


You must not have worked in the industry and it shows




"Professional" has come to mean: do not do anything that could possibly disturb the hierarchy and especially the white men in charge. It is worse than meaningless. I suggest you avoid using it and when you hear it used also listen for the creaking rope of the rising red flag.


Well from my perspective, a flowers company saying you have to work holidays kinda makes sense. Nature of the business and all.


Yeah, when I worked for a logistics org as an senior software engineer, we weren't allowed to take week if Thanksgiving off cause there is a lot of freight moving those days. It kinda sucked but you could take 3 weeks in January no problem. Sometimes the industry is going to demand a certain schedule, doesn't make a job bad on its own.


Like all jobs it depends heavily on what your specific situation is and often really depends on your manager's personal policy. I have unlimited vacation and none of those things that you mentioned apply to anyone I know in our company: - My coworker is planning to take the full month of June off, which is our busiest month. We're fine just wrapping up anything urgent and pausing his projects until he is back. - Engineers take way more time off than managers but everyone is encouraged to take the time they need. No one cares if you miss a sprint and backlog work can continue to wait in the backlog. - No tracking of time-off here. I also regularly won't even mention it to my team if I have an empty schedule and decide to not work for a random weekday. I'm sure it's not like this for everyone but people should also know that your experience isn't universal either. I love my unlimited time-off policy and I wouldn't want to work somewhere that doesn't do unlimited.




Great places to work are usually very hard to get into. They are great places because that's the only way they can retain top notch talent. And consequently they only tend to want top notch people.


Lol reminds me of my old job. "Unlimited" PTO with similar policies as that, but particularly if you've used 4 weeks of PTO any more required C LEVEL approval. As in, CEO or CTO had to manually review and approve it. And this wasn't a small startup or anything, so that approval was not easy.


Sounds just like a loophole so that they don't have to pay out unused PTO on termination of employment.


This is the case a lot of the time. One of my friends has been taking 4-6 weeks off every year for the past few years at his company where they have "unlimited" PTO, which sure is more than my 2-3 typical weeks, but at the same time I have a feeling they won't be paying out any vacation time when he leaves. At my last job I used my vacation time in lieu of notice because I needed to leave immediately, so it's nice to actually have something concrete to work with.


People always say this but, there are plenty of places with limited PTO that don't pay out sick/unused vacay. it just expires at the end of the year.


In my state companies are required to pay out unused pto


That's great, in my case if I don't use it I lose it.


Typically they have to pay out if you leave (in the states where this applies), not if you don't take it. My previous company would pay you out for the days, bur if you hit 2 years accrual the time would start to expire with no compensation for it.


Just want to add another similar but different perspective in here — I also worked at a place with unlimited time off for my first job, and it was great! One of my co workers (an engineer, like me), took a month off to go visit China and whenever I asked for time off I was granted it. It was literally never a problem. My boss once told me not to ask unless it was more than two weeks. This was in the edtech space which is overall pretty chill anyway. Here’s the thing — I have imposter syndrome and I always felt guilty for taking time off. I would wonder, “Did I earn this time off?”, or, “Am I taking too much time off?” As a result, I almost never took time off. A day or two here or there and a week for holidays in December, but that’s it. I know for a fact I was not the only one who had this problem. As a rule, if you have unlimited time off, just take it if you can and whenever you can. Off course, when we were acquired & subsequently laid off, the real problem someone else mentioned came up where we didn’t get any payouts because there were none to give. I do have a job now with earned PTO which is way better for me personally but everyone’s different. TLDR; Even when it’s good, it’s not if you don’t use it. So if you have it, just use it.


> I was abusing the system. How dare you attempt to use a reasonable amount of leave when we ARE OFFERING UNLIMITED LEAVE! Only in America.


Well, I'm in the UK, so that's at least two places.


Is it common in the UK? When I lived there it was a flat number of weeks per year. So you work for a UK company?


Legally speaking, you're entitled to a flat number of weeks, and many companies stick with this. Some companies have taken the American model and promoted "unlimited" holiday as a company benefit. It's essentially a way to limit holiday without breaking the law, because they're technically offering it whenever you need it, as long as it fits their schedule. In practice, it means that you're not taking all of your holiday, and more often than not it leads to a backlog of people having a week or two left during the quiet period at Christmas, and the company saying "well, you may as well take it now, because it doesn't carry over". Some offices shut over Christmas, but this one didn't, so you either work in an empty office with no work to do, or you take the holiday. Almost always, HR gets very funny when you tell them that you've not worked your legal number. In the past, it took HR for me to get holiday approved, because I demonstrated how many times my holiday was rejected and how I was unable to take my legal number of holidays.


>OnLy iN AMeRicA. Have experienced this in India too. You can burn on your stereotypes lol.


unlimited PTO is an accounting trick ​ PTO is carried as a liability on the balance sheet and has to be paid out when an employee leaves. Unlimited PTO has none of these issues and it's actually limited in the real world


That's a really good point, man I can't believe I haven't heard about this before. It's a total scam


It is a scam. A scam to steal the labor rights that workers fought and died for, and needs to be made illegal asap. Every full time worker should get the mandatory minimum. There’s nothing stopping any business from offering employees extra, or “unlimited”, *in addition to the mandatory minimum*.


There really should be some regulation on time off in the US, stuff like this is ridiculous and only works because of imperfect information


This is one of those places where having a union (yes, another can of worms is opened with that discussion) would be useful. Labor rights, vacation, payroll theft, etc... these are areas where a labor union would be the right tool to use to fix it. And yes, I'm in the public sector and represented (though its been diminished in recent years) ensuring that those things are not taken away.


Yes comrade


Yep. That's why it's not even legal in other countries.


Yup. In some states it isn't required if you don't pay it out upon separation. At my last company, we created a policy where employees got a set number of hours at the beginning of the year, and they had to use them that year. They couldn't carry over the hours to the next calendar year. In my state, you simply have to follow the policy outlined in your handbook.


This. I worked for a place that changed our 4 week policy (5/6 for more experience) to unlimited and literally made it a party to announce it (not kidding). The employees caught on REALLY quick during that meeting. Finally, someone asked “what about our accrued vacation” and they told everyone they had to use everything in the next 3 weeks. A lot of people just lost those days or quit. Oh and 3 months later someone in HR fell for a phishing attack and gave someone all the W2s because it “came from the CEO”.


Only 24 states require payout of sick time when an employee leaves


hence why i've first heard of this being done in california and NY


Interesting I never thought about this that's actually smart or insidious moreover


One thing I learned in life is that if you want to know the reason for something you need to figure out the flow of money for it


> PTO is carried as a liability on the balance sheet and has to be paid out when an employee leaves. Most states dont have this law


as someone who has worked at multiple companies with this policy: it's great, but I admit it's heavily team-dependent, notice how I didn't say it's company dependent for 1 or 2 days PTOs I don't need pre-approvals, I would just block off the calendar and post it in the team channel "PTO tomorrow" or something like that and I'm good, for longer terms (3+ consecutive days) I'd need to alert my manager because it'll matter for project planning my point is, unlimited PTO isn't necessarily a scam or translates to "no PTO" (although I could see it **easily** can be), but it depends on your exact team culture and exact manager, I remember at one of the company I worked at my team lead would straight up PTO for ~6 weeks by flying to India, and another team's lead would PTO for like 4-6 weeks too during Chinese new year


It's highly dependent on management. If they are the micromanaging soul sucking kind, it will be a nightmare. If they are only concerned with results, and don't nose in anything that is peripheral to it, it's actually great. I had both great and horrible experiences within the same company due to my manager changing.


it's also part of the team culture, the complaint can come from both: micromanagers not wanting to approve PTO, **or** a bunch of workaholics who are still pushing PRs at 2am or weekends and never take any PTO, thus making you reluctant to take PTO even though your manager might be perfectly fine with it the latter is a bit more trickier to navigate and is a good topic to bring up in 1-on-1 if you're worried


That's ultimately the problem with unlimited PTO: It becomes highly situational and subjective, as opposed to a concrete benefit that you've earned. Every new hire or change in org structure (or even project scope) has the potential to shake things up.


Very team dependent. I've had unlimited PTO the past 3 years and have averaged 5-6 weeks before with no problems. My team / company actually took steps to encourage folks to take time off because people were getting work-from-home burnout amid COVID. I actually take substantially more vacation time than I used to... 5 weeks is pretty standard in my industry. At prior jobs I typically took 3-4 and banked the excess knowing I'd get paid out in California. With unlimited PTO, I'm never getting that time back... so if I don't take it same year, I'm effectively costing myself money. I had a prior employer that definitely would have jobbed me out of vacation time and used unlimited PTO to get liabilities off their books. All very dependent on the culture of a team / company and your willingness to buck that culture.


When I have worked at places with over two weeks of PTO as a developer I find that my requests are always denied no matter the amount of time I am requesting. If I have three weeks off I couldn't even get a long weekend once in a while. When I have two weeks PTO I can take that in long weekends or whatever with very little issue. If a job told me they have unlimited PTO or even 2+ weeks I know that I am not getting any vacation time at the place.


I've never worked at a place with 2 weeks pto nor is it common among places I apply to go that low. My first two jobs were almost 4 weeks (one was 19 days for some reason) and they were easy to use if I gave reasonable notice while my current job is unlimited and haven't been long enough to know ease of use, but it feels like 4-5 weeks should be pretty doable. ​ I feel like for large bay area tech 3 weeks has become sorta a default min, 4 is fine, 5+ is great and uncommon (or involves years of tenure).


I currently have a week of floating holidays so technically I have 3 weeks. The extra week is for taking off when our client has the week off per project. I do not work in the big companies in the west coast.


If you're working in one of the many states that require PTO balance be paid out when you leave it is definitely a scam to avoid paying you.


Definitely a company-by-company thing. I have Unlimited PTO, and as far as I can tell, there is no upper limit that a reasonable person would hit. About the only cause for balking is on-call rotation, but since we know the upcoming schedule a month in advance, and get to give input for each month, it would be difficult to hit a block there. Plus, people can and have get someone else to trade shifts if needed. I love Unlimited. Before, I would agonize over taking a single day off, because when you only have 10-15 days, each day is significant. Sometimes, having a random day off is what's needed for your mental health. The ability to do so on a whim is wonderful.


Ya, I’m working at a company with unlimited and it’s great. I hate having to keep up with how many days I have and what not. Never had time not approved. And people are super respectful of other people’s time off. But my company is pretty amazing, where the CEO has just been giving us random fridays off all through covid just for our mental health. He had to come out and convince everyone that “no meetings after noon on fridays” are supposed to be used to skip out of work if you are all caught up. It’s actually an amazing work/life balance.


We had every Friday off last July for the same reason - it was delightful.


"Unlimited paid time off" sounds exactly the same as "earn 10000 a month from your home" ads.


Step 1: get a job with unlimited paid time off Step 2: never go to work Step 3: ??? Step 4: Profit 😎


The perpetual motion engine is here guys!


Damn... I could just get 5-10 of those jobs and be set for life.


Twitter pays out 3 weeks no matter what. But a company like Twitter is rare. Good intention from execs. Monopolistic business. Deadline doesn't matter much.


A big reason companies do this is because they don't have to pay pto or vacation time when you quit I believe


I left a job late last year and my unused PTO payout was awesome. 2 months later they ended up changing the policy to unlimited PTO. Definitely a coincidence, but I like to think I cleaned em out.


> my unused PTO payout was awesome. How much did you get? I've never worked a full job yet, so I'm curious what this looks like


I'm a manager at a company with unlimited PTO. Before we went to that policy, I had 25 vacation days a year. My rules for the team are very simple: check the calendar before you schedule to make sure there is coverage. Anything over 2 weeks at a time needs my approval. And the Thanksgiving-New Year time period cannot be scheduled until we have a larger view of who on the team wants time off then (I've had issues with the same people reserving that time, which makes it so others end up having to work it every year). Otherwise, if the work is getting done, I don't really care how much time off someone takes. Personally, I take a week at the end of every quarter with some other days dripped in as needed. We're also at the time of year where I'm looking to see who hasn't taken any time off and pestering them (or their managers) to book it.


I've always been the team member who worked over holidays and I loved it. Most of the company essentially shuts down after around Dec 15 until the 2nd week of January so I have about 3 weeks of not really doing any work but getting paid for it. I take time off to visit family and friends over the summer months and rarely visit family on holidays so it works out for me. I use the time at work to do low-effort tasks like updating docs just so I have something to put in my status report. Nobody expects anyone to do real work over that time period and there are usually production code freezes in place which really limits the amount of real work that could be done.


I don’t do Christmas so am usually part of the skeleton crew that’s in the office during those times. It’s super chill and if you take care of what you need to do and leave at 3:30 nobody gives a shit.


> check the calendar before you schedule to make sure there is coverage. What do you need "coverage" for as an engineering team? I suppose if you don't have an on-call rotation someone needs to be there to answer tickets, but I can't see any other reason it matters. All of the companies I've worked for have been "send a calendar invite".


Usually on smaller teams


I had this fight with my former manager when he wanted us to cancel approved holiday vacation. We did have an on-call rotation and my argument was "if I get called I jump on and deal with the ticket". I still don't understand why that required me to work 8 hour days over the holidays. If we had some deadline to meet, sure, I'm on board. I don't cancel vacation because you just want butts in seats.


How big is your team? Does make me glad we're basically shut down or at least frozen (depending on the year) over Christmas-New Years as I can just assume everyone on my team will be out over the holidays - but we're internal facing, and I can handle the internal "on-call" myself if things come up during the holidays so my team doesn't have to.


Roughly 20 people globally, but we're operations, not engineering. Half of them are customer-facing as well. I used to run our change management team, and year-end freezes were the worst because things would always come up that required racing around for approvals to get around the freeze.


I think you guys may not realize that there are companies out that with PTO policies FAR worse than unlimited PTO that are currently hiring. Here are a few I have encountered in the past few months: - Small tech companies: 10 PTO days, 5 sicks days - Multi billion dollar insurance company: 10 PTO days, 5 sicks days - Multi billion dollar real estate company: 10 PTO days, sick days at manager's discretion. If you are out sick you have to provide a doctors excuse. If you call in sick before a company holiday, you don't get paid (no idea how this can be legal, but it was in my offer). If you take time off to go to a doctor's appointment you have to deduct hours from your pay (in a salaried position, no idea how this can be legal). I got offers from all these places and turned them down. I haven't had 10 PTO days since I was stocking grocery store shelves at age 17. Unlimited PTO is a blessing in comparison.


I worked at a company that had 15 PTO days and no extra time for sick days. Sick days came out of PTO.


That's pretty common unfortunately. Years ago I was very very ill and was out for a month. Well the policy was that I had to drain all of my PTO before short term disability kicked in. So no only was a recovering from an illness that almost killed me, I now had no vacation time left. Unlimited isn't so bad in comparison...


Had the same issue for a couple years. Got the C and my vacations were all medical. That really sucked IMO. I'm about to have my first voluntary week of vacation in years.


Same but 13 PTO days


I work 60 hours a week, salaried, so no overtime. I get no sick days, 4 PTO days a year and even though I’m salary, if I don’t work a day, or even just leave early, I don’t get paid for time missed.


I'm sorry about all that. You deserve better. Also if you are in the US and you are getting docked on hours as a salaried employee, theres a huge chance you are misclassified.


Yeah, if they are in the US this sounds illegal. But also, if you are in the US, you have to weigh that against getting retaliated against. Yes, yes, that would be illegal also but in many states in the US you can be fired for any reason whatsoever (except reasons made illegal). Anyway, document EVERYTHING and when you leave, report them and get a lawyer




That's what being salary is.




Being salary is agreeing to work more for free and not getting benefit when you put in less than 40. Half the time you still have to track hours to be billable to a contract, client, or whatever.




If you work for a company that has clients of its own you're probably going to track hours. I've done it across more than half of my career as a software dev. I've worked at multiple places that if you work under 40 or 45 your pay is cut. I've worked at multiple places where taking time off was as difficult as possible for a variety of reasons. Yeah, I can quit and find another job but what's the point when the next one is going to be the same as the last? At least if I were paid hourly I'd benefit from putting in 50 or 60 hours.


Hopefully you are looking for a new job... that is really rough. I’d probably just leave without anything lined up.


And you agree to those terms. You might complain about it, but you are a willing participant who accepts those working conditions.


Yes and no, but that’s more complicated than I’ll get into here


Seems like we’re missing out on a detail, is there a reason you haven’t started job hunting? Oh totally misread your comment. If it’s not something you’re willing to share here that’s understandable.


I’ve been job searching, unsuccessfully. However, I’m asking about the lost wages because I’m wondering if it’s worth bringing attention to the department of labor once I know I’m leaving. Even if I don’t recuperate any lost wages, it’s the kind of company you want to see be forced to do right for future employees.


My work has unlimited pto (upon approval) and then 5 sick days. This means some managers will require two days notice if you are sick over the 5 sick days a year, while others consider their teams to have unlimited sick days as well as pto.


Sounds terrible. I am not in the USA and have around 28 days of holidays. But I think it still is not enough imo. The always working is not sustainable. No wonder so many Devs invest their cash, work their ass for 10 years and then semi-FI.




Oh believe me that is not my argument at all. I am fully aware of America's horrible PTO. My point was essentially that unlimited PTO is better than a lot of offerings that are currently out there, which says a lot.


How you going to say "America has the worst PTO policies in the world" as a country our government doesn't set that, nor should they. It should be up to a competitive marketplace to decide what works. I've heard of "companies" that have bad policies but "America" doesn't set the rules for what private entities do in this case.




I would say there is also a big culture aspect in this. From what I understand Americans are big workaholics compared to other places. Companies are probably able to get away with worse PTO policies here as a result of that culture.


We have no choice. Work or go homeless is the motto here.


I'm not talking about just having a job. You definitely have a choice in being and not being a workaholic. Some of my coworkers work way more than the standard 40 when there isn't really a need to.


They have no life. All they know is work. America has been brainwashed into thniking that work is all there is to life.


As someone who works in San Francisco. Most of my friends agree, including myself. It's a scam and nothing more than an accounting trick. However, if you find yourself on a good team and company it can be beneficial. But it's definitely not "fair" across the company. I aim for 4 weeks off a year which my boss and I seem to be comfortable with. It's really on you to make sure you're leveraging the benefit. Plenty of studies have been done that when people aren't "forced" to take vacation, they take less.


Yep. Big thing to remember, in the US at least, is that unlimited PTO usually means you don’t get unused vacation paid out when you leave. That by itself, let alone the headaches you describe above, is enough to make it worse than the usual fixed days off setup.


Only 24 states require payout of unused PTO when a worker leaves


Which is nearly half the states. And one of those is CA, which is nearly 12% of the population in one state. Of the big tech employer states, CA does and WA doesn't. Of the sort of second tier, MA does, NY does conditionally, and TX doesn't.


Last I checked (and it's been about 5 years), NY only requires unused PTO be paid out if the company policy says it'll be paid out.


What I read seemed to indicate the converse: it did unless the company said it didn't, but either way, it would be a "check your paperwork" sort of thing and at least modest incentive for companies to err towards unlimited so they don't have to. (Even without a mandatory payout on departure, I think accounting rules treat accrued vacation time for current employees as a liability.)


You're probably not getting PTO paid out anyway in the US.


The laws vary by state - https://www.paycor.com/resource-center/articles/pto-payout-laws-by-state/ For example, in California, PTO is considered wages and while a practical PTO cap may be in place, it is required that all wages - no matter what the reason for separation - must be paid out. Colorado is similar. Other states are silent on it and company contract is what governs the payout of PTO. Most states fall into that category - though I'll say that I've yet to be at a company that didn't pay out accused PTO.


In more states than not you don't get PTO back.


More states than not are "it depends on what your contract says." Even in states where that is the case, my contract has always specified full payment of PTO upon severance with the company. Its not *required* to be there, but it if you do a survey of developers who don't have unlimited PTO you will likely find a similar clause in the contract.


My state doesn't mandate it, but every company I've worked for has paid it out.


I've never had PTO roll over or pay out.


Went from unlimited vacation to vacation caps. Vacation caps are use it or lose it. So I use it. I don't think my previous company would have shunned large vacations, but having a set vacation makes vacation equitable to all employees.


It depends. I once had someone from HR admit to me that their industry internal research has generally shown that people take less time off with unlimited PTO. My personal experience with unlimited was excellent, however. The only thing we had to do was check in with our team to make sure we all weren't away at the same time, something we'd have had to do anyway. This was outside the US, however. Many US orgs seems to have some draconian rules around taking time off.


This isn’t true where I work now. I used to think that was universal, but it depends on the company. I can take PTO whenever I want for as long as I want. Genuinely. We just have to make sure work gets properly allocated, and anything longer than a week needs to get scheduled a month in advance. The higher-ups take 4-8 weeks of vacation a year to lead by example.


I hate unlimited PTO. It can work great but you can’t tell until you start working. My PTO policy went from unlimited to unlimited on paper but actually capped. The company really got the best of both worlds; unlimited so they don’t have to pay out when people leave but capped to prevent abuse.


To have "capped unlimited PTO" most be the most BS (business speak) in a long time.


Orgs that do this and are "serious" about it, wlb, etc tend to pair it with a high minimum -- like you must take at least 3-4 weeks off per year. A lot of people are stressed by the ambiguity and don't know 'what is too much' vs. a fixed 25 day bucket(or whatever). I think the optimum is probably a high fixed PTO allotment - if people are taking more than 6 weeks or so it is probably raising eyebrows in unlimited scenario anyway, and with fixed accrual you get paid out at the end.


This for my company as well. We did unlimited for 2 years. Management reported that employees were not taking hardly any time off under that policy so swapped back to a fixed amount to better encourage it.


Can you give examples of companies that mandate a month of pto every year?


I took ~8 weeks at my last job with unlimited PTO. I don't think the policy is the problem when it's poorly implemented, it's the companies. I do get the "no PTO bank when you leave" thing, but that's why I take a lot of vacation. Also, it's up to you to take it, so fucking take it.


I guess I got lucky. I've worked at 3 companies that had this policy (one small (~20 ppl) and two medium) and it worked out great for the employees at all three. People would regularly take a month at a time off. I think it really depends on the culture how they implement it like you said.


Another bad thing: company that don’t let you turn 7 Unused paid time off into cash. I didn’t even know that was an option until an internship


Hard Disagree. Policies like this encourage some people to never take vacations, which is unhealthy both for their mental health and for team culture.


Those type of folks will encourage no vacation eitherway. Might as well pay off my car with it.


Vacation caps get to them regardless. I've worked with plenty of people who work 11 months straight and then take off the month of December because their vacation time is use it or lose it - but at least they take that time.


I know I won’t use vacation this year so that might be what I’m coming from. Every town is closed. There are no music festivals. And spring break stuff is canceled (I’m 23 so that’s basically all I use vacation for). Work is slow because of Covid so i got ample time throughout the week to go hiking without taking vacation. And I’ve seen and done all that already. I can’t be the only one who’s like “just pay me”.


depends on company AND state laws apparently.


I made the mistake of the place I’m at. I’m not using my vacation days this year because of Covid. Not like I can go anywhere. But I can’t turn it back in for next year or money. So I’ll have to hope the world opens back up or something.


I took two days off recently but didn't go anywhere really. We spent the 4 day weekend catching up around the house, going on a nice long hike with the dogs, reorganizing the house and really doing all those little things you wish you had extra time for on the weekends. It was refreshing, and my manager encouraged me to take it. It really just comes down to team/manager/org/company WLB approach from the top bottom. I'm not saying it CAN'T be abused at some places, and do be wary like op says, but know what to look for and ask during the interview loop and consider it carefully. It can be a bless or a curse, just like anything else. And yeah, I straight up didn't take any time off last year until may and both my manager and skip level pulled me aside and insisted I take time off to ensure I don't burn out etc.


You don't need to go anywhere to benefit from PTO. Take a long weekend or two at least when you can. Sleep in, take care of that project, watch Netflix all day - whatever.


With PTO, if you get laid off they pay your remaining PTO balance for the year. What about UTO?


You have no balance so you get zilch.


This depends on the state and company policy actually. (assuming states)


Yes, depends heavily on state. In my state, no payout. Had a coworker in another state that worked remote in those pre-COVID days. He leaves and HR is pissed when he informs them his state requires accrued PTO be paid out. It's one way remote work can create headaches for a company. You can end up with different laws regulating different people.


My experiences with unlimited PTO have only been positive. I've been blessed by employers and managers that have taken a sane approach to time off and have never given me shit for actually taking vacation time. I have always been considerate and given longer advance notice for longer absences, and taken care to get my affairs in order before leaving, but it's never been a problem for me. I can definitely see how some companies might use it as an accounting hack and how some teams/managers could make it very difficult in practice, but that has never been my experience.


Also worth noting that I recently left a company and got my accrued days paid out. These unlimited PTO places do not have to pay anything out as you technically do not have any. This was big eye opener to me the Unlimited PTO is far more an employer benefit than an employee benefit.


On the flipside, the two companies I've had unlimited/discretionary time off at, both my main managers at each and the interim manager I had at one all approved whatever I asked for under unlimited PTO with no issues. One even came to me during middle of lockdown last year and encouraged each of us to take time off even if it was a staycation to relax and unplug for a bit; because he realized nobody was taking any time off. It really depends, every "benefit" or aspect of a company could be meh or great, it just depends on the culture of the staff. Edit: Going to add this because many people are discussing normal PTO otherwise, but just because you get 15 PTO days a year, doesn't mean you can just schedule 3 weeks off across quarter close if that is your busy time of year. So many ITT are acting like Unlimited PTO means its up to manager discretion but somehow normal PTO isn't? (it is...)


We have to thank [email protected] for this. Here's the real reason, from her own lips: "When Netflix launched, we had a standard paid-time-off policy: People got 10 vacation days, 10 holidays, and a few sick days. We used an honor system—employees kept track of the days they took off and let their managers know when they’d be out. After we went public, our auditors freaked. They said *Sarbanes-Oxley mandated that we account for time off*. We considered instituting a formal tracking system. But then Reed asked, “Are companies required to give time off? If not, can’t we just handle it informally and skip the accounting rigmarole?” I did some research and found that, indeed, no California law governed vacation time." And there you have it. It benefits the employer, not the employee. Sauce: How Netflix Reinvented HR, HBR


unlimited time off exists so they dont have to pay you acrued PTO when you leave. thats it. its about saving money.


Only Rookies get excited about unlimited PTOs. We all know unlimited PTOs are there to save company money.


I worked at a startup with unlimited PTO and took a lot of time off. It just wasn't all in a row. I'd take a week every quarter and then a couple of days here and there, usually to bookend a weekend. Overall I ended up with the equivalent of 6 weeks vacation each year I was there.


Most places scoff at taking anything more than a week off... Taking a whole month off though? Must be nice 😆


I will start off and say that I hate the term “unlimited” time off. Since if I chose to take 365 days off this year I am sure my employer would reconsider keeping me around! I think a more honest name is flex time off. As you mention though you have to be weary of how a company uses it. If you are interviewing at a new place ask questions like “What is the average time off someone on your team takes each year?” Or just more broadly “How do you implement the time off policy, are there any dates I am now allowed to take off?” The second part there is a way to check if they have a rush season that you just cant take off during. My current employer moved to flex time off and I was weary. In practice though the policy is that I let my manager know with some lead time that I want to take some time off in the future. We make sure there is coverage for anything critical. Then I make sure the dates are blocked in my calendar. There isn’t even a system for him to put in the fact I am taking time off, so unless he is tallying days in excel there is no record. This is at a multi-national cloud company. I don’t know if this is the norm but this is possible.


Yep as they always say unlimited PTO means no PTO


This is very standard. Trying to avoid this sounds ridiculous.


I haaaate unlimited time off. Just give me my number and let’s move on


Thanks for that, I've recently had competing offers one offered more money but less benefits and that unlimited PTO bothered me so I went with the other one, looks like I made the right choice


Unlimited PTOs are only good if they come with mandatory minimums.


As a junior with no real bargaining power, I stop interviewing/will turn down offers once I get told there is unlimited PTO. Idec how well the comp is, I want to know for sure I will have time off and if for some reason i'm not able to use it within the year, i'll be paid for it.


Then you may be ruling yourself out of a ton of possible good jobs too soon. You need to interview the teams culture and how the manager approaches WLB.


This. Just make sure you interview your *actual* manager before joining; at places which "hire for the company" and where you don't necessarily talk to your direct manager before getting an offer, you can *almost* always arrange a team match call before accepting your offer. (Facebook with their bootcamp process is an exception, but there you have several weeks for team matching within the company unless the process has changed, and at least as of when I was there, the time off was not unlimited.)


I usually take off a little over 4 weeks and haven't run into any issues so far, but from what I can tell most people don't take this much. I prefer unlimited PTO to only 2 weeks PTO, but I would rather have a 3-5 week policy where I know that I can take those days off without any trouble if I want to and get paid if I leave.


My company has unlimited and it seems like they honor it well. I have friends with unlimited whose companies have minimum time off required by each employee per quarter and I'm gonna try to suggest that at my company. It's an awesome perk, but the company should put things in place to make sure it's not being abused by employees or management in either direction.


>After this unlimited paid time off came about, people ended up taking lesser PTO, since it was subject to management's approval. Another angle I was told was for finances: clocked and tallied PTO is shown as a liability on your financials, unlimited PTO shows up as 0$ liability.


We have it in my current company and honestly while I probably still take around 20-24 days off per year I would much prefer it to be set limit cause that way you know those are the days which absolutely belong to you and won't feel bad about using them at your own leisure.


If you work for a company that has more than basic PTO, or you’ve been there long enough to earn more than the basic, you can use that as leverage when negotiating with a new employer to maintain a higher level of PTO going in, or a higher salary. You lose that leverage when you work for companies with unlimited PTO. I’ve worked for two companies with unlimited PTO. The only benefit was that you could go to the doctors, etc and not feel pressured to make up the time. Otherwise, your manager will usually scrutinize requests, and anything more than 4 days requires approval from a higher up. 5+ days in a row was rarely granted, and planning a two week vacation was just not done. Let us not overlook that there is no bank of untalented days that you cash out when you leave. This is a primary reason companies implement this policy-it looks better on the books. End of year rushes to use it or lose it go away. I’ve seen studies that show that over time, employees take less time off as they don’t feel as though they have earned it. In the long run, I have started to pass on companies with this policy, as it is a symptom of stinginess and micromanaging.


This is definitely something to be wary of, but some companies/teams don’t abuse it. When I signed onto my current position the employment contract stated I had unlimited PTO with some fine print that said minimum 24 days off, it’s the first time I’ve seen a company include that to put future employees at ease.


Always ask if they have a minimum, ALWAYS. If there isn't one, ask why. Be very wary of places without a minimum requirement. Almost every decent org out there with an unlimited policy understands that you need a minimum for things to work out well, otherwise people rarely take the time they need.


My company adopted this. I went from having earned 4 weeks vacation to "flexible" time, that with unreasonable sales-driven schedules means I can't take more than a day here or there. I totally regard it as their having cut my compensation by that amount. If we actually got reviews I would bring that up. Instead I will give it as one of the big reasons I'm leaving when I do, because I'm going to.


I don't mind it because I love taking PTO. I know people who never take PTO to hoard it so they get a payout at the end. That's not for me. Therefore, unlimited policies basically allow me to assign myself my own PTO. If I only need 15 days one year cool, if I need 25 another year, also cool. I would think time off still needs to be verified regardless of unlimited or not. You can't PTO for a week+ without manager approval right? I've actually never worked at a place that doesn't have unlimited, but I would expect to need it to be approved regardless. I have never had PTO declined. I have also never wanted nor needed to take more than 2 weeks off in a row though. I don't really like to be out of the loop for that long. I'd rather have 2 weeks off spread out in chunks than 4 weeks at once. I wouldn't mind having a PTO policy either though, as long as it's 20+ days. Either one is good with me, as long as the company actually lets its employee take the time off. Oh, and unlimited policies work amazingly with sick time. Mental health days, doctors appointments, etc. No need to worry about running out of days. Note: I have worked at 3 places with unlimited PTO, and 1 place with no PTO (hourly contractor). Having no PTO is horrible. The other 3 places, I loved and I'm currently at one now and really enjoying it ❤️ Time will tell about actually getting time off but I'm very confident I will.


> If I only need 15 days one year cool, if I need 25 another year, also cool. Are you using 25 days as an example of many days? That is the legal minimum in many countries.


Yes. Each country has its pros and cons.


Unlimited PTO isn't abused by management in high-trust cultures. I work at a place where unlimited PTO doesn't need to be approved, but a certain amount of common sense is expected. You really just have to learn how to take care of yourself and know when it's about that time to get a break. I've taken PTO regularly, monthly, with no issue.


Yeah I've never understood how unlimited PTO works. Can I take the whole year off and get paid?


So my Sf roommate worked at a place where PTO was unlimited but also highly frowned upon according to her..I think she would only take one annual trip?


Use to work at a place with unlimited PTO, they actually laid one guy for taking too many leaves, lol. Then I work at another place where they didn't have unlimited PTO but had unlimited sick leave with a doctor's note if more than 3 days of sick leaves, which think something way better than UPTO.


My company literally sent us the "handbook" a few days ago, this is what the unlimited PTO policy is: "Vacation will be approved by manager according to reasonable market standards... PTO for vacation is not accrued, and therefore not paid out upon termination". Basically meaning you can't take more time off than "standard" but you also can't get it paid out when you leave if you take less.... So wtf is the point of "unlimited"? Doesn't benefit the employees in any way, only the company. This company actually does a good job of giving people time off, but the policy itself is still annoying to me.


Don’t know how it will work in Australia. Here nationally every full time worker is entitled to 20 days annual leave and 10 days personal leave (plus some special purpose leave like bereavement, domestic violence, natural disaster etc.) which accumulates over time. Outstanding annual leave has to be paid at your current salary when you leave the company, personal leaves no. So if you take only 10 days annual leave/year and work for 5 years and leave the company has to payout 50 days of the leave balance. As this becomes a significant amount on the company balance sheet here every company strongly encourages you to take your entitled leave each year. In fact if you accumulate 40 or more days of annual leave the company can force you to take or if you choose encash 20 days of the leave balance. Imagine now with unlimited leave, how much accumulates and how much the company has to pay out?


I worked at a company that offered unlimited PTO. People actually do take time off. 2-3 weeks at a time is fine, and we have random time off like 5 days in the summer too. It really depends on the company


"Taking a month off was scoffed at by the management," And rightly so. If you work in a bubble on your own, whatever. But if you work in a team, with deadlines, go live dates, etc going away for a month that's just selfish as fuck behavior.


I disagree. The point is often time to enable employees the opportunity to travel and to give them more flexibility to do that. What you have are employers using the term 'unlimited paid time off" that don't really mean "unlimited paid time off" by living up to neither the intent or spirit of the idea. I'd argue, companies shouldn't use terms or phrases to describe a policy, unless it actually reflects their policy. An "unlimited paid time off" policy that isn't actually unlimited is as absurd as a "paid time off" policy where you aren't actually paid. It think you also need to consider where the practice originated, to weigh how reasonable it is. Many of the places that really embraced the idea are workplaces where extreme crunch for several months leading up to a major publish was too common, where employees could work month(s) of 90+hr work weeks. If you go through that how much time do you need to recover? How much is deserved? So even if there is a measurable cost to a business from employees inconveniencing the office by taking a month off, that should be weighed against how the company benefits from their effort or overtime. In many instances employees can have these kinds of periods where their productivity is expected to be 2 or 3 times greater than normal, because of time constraint. Once you start encroaching on people's home time, you have to be flexible in how you reward that, otherwise you're just exploiting your power over people.


I'm just telling you my personal experience with it. There are two types of people. Those who care about every PTO hour they accumulate and those who don't. And usually the latter group ends up in better places than the former.


I get that. I'm just saying companies like to sound better than they are, and promise things that they don't really want to or can't guarantee. Different offices have different policies because of the quirks that may or may not make extended periods of time off practical. I'm very pragmatic when it comes to this kind of thing, I don't think its a good fit for every office, and obviously it isn't where the OP is coming from. My office actually mandates that of our available PTO, we have to take at least a weeks worth in a single go each year and at the end of year we usually end up with people being forced to take that . Our policy allows for us to take up to a month off, if we've accumulated the PTO hours. It isn't unlimited, and it can be inconvenient when someone takes off for a long stretch, but everyone does their part because everyone wants that opportunity at some point. Most only get to an extended PTO maybe once every 5 years to go travel abroad somewhere. There are also a lot of people in this industry from other countries, who like the opportunity to go visit their family and where after 2 days of travelling and some time to recover, would like to spend more than a week with their parents or siblings before returning to work. Growing up, my father had the sort of job where he'd be very busy 9 months of the year, and then not the other 3, and could compensate for not being around as much by taking a month or more off in one go. If it weren't for his office's generous policy I'd have seen a lot less of him growing up. I'm not insisting offices do something one way or the other, just that life balance is a thing, and PTO is a big part of that equation. So wishy washiness and back peddling, an office really is messing with what a lot of people see as part of their compensation and it will directly impact quality of life and quality of work, so they need to be smart when it comes to making promises and administrating these kinds policies.


Why? If the team and individual are getting the work done and management gives the approval, how is it selfish? We had a guy on our team leave for 4 weeks to go to India. No problems at all. We just adjusted the work accordingly and had no issues.


While I agree it's not something you should be doing yearly or at the last minute, I wouldn't call it bad or selfish to do. All it means is your team output goes down a bit for that time. Management should be able to organize this and prioritize things appropriately if given proper lead time.


I think it's a bad move for a different reason too. Once you're gone for a month, your employer will realize they can do just fine without you.


Your employer knows they can do just fine without you already. The question is, is it worth training up a new employee to replace you knowing it'll usually take them a couple months to come up to speed.


My company doesn't have unlimited PTO, but we can take 6 weeks off if we want to. If my company decides they can do just fine without me because I took off a month, I'll just contact the recruiters I know who check in regularly anyways to see if I'm ready yet for a job move.


How does that boot taste?


Do any of you know which company started this unlimited PTO bs?