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A Good Benefit?

By Steve Jones,

I'm wondering what you think. Is the idea of trading some paid time off (PTO) for student loan debt relief a good idea? That's what Unum, an insurance company, is offering. They give their employees 28 days off, which is quite generous. I don't know many people that get than many days off. If employees wish, they can trade up to 5 days for the equivalent salary, which is used to give them money for their student loans, or their children's.

It's a creative offer, and one that doesn't force people to forego vacation, as they'd still have more than four weeks of time to take off. In the US, most people don't take their entire vacation allowance when it's over two weeks. This gives them a chance to pay down some debt with minimal impact on their work life balance. At least, minimal for me. I struggle to take my 25 days, so this is a trade I'd make.

The downside, to me, is that there may be plenty of employees that don't have student loan debt. They don't get a choice here, which feels unfair. I'd much rather the company offer employees the chance to sell back up to five days and use that payment for anything. After all, plenty of people have debt that isn't related to education. Why not give them a chance to reduce other obligations?

I am not quite sure of what I think of companies becoming more involved in employee's personal lives. We are in a more freelance, gig economy where people change jobs regularly and often may work remotely. For me, I tend to favor the approach from Basecamp where the company treats people fairly and create an environment where employees are respected and want to work for a long time. While I know this is hard for many companies, and certainly hard to change, I do think more organizations could improve their culture and treatment of employees.

I'm very lucky in that I work for a company that's amazing. Redgate Software is the kind of company I'd want to create if I built another organization, and I have a fantastic set of co-workers, managers, and benefits. We are growing and hire here and there, and if you're interested, I can't recommend this organization enough.

Can you say the same thing about your employer?

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