Unlimited PTO

  • killer.turtle13 - Wednesday, July 12, 2017 4:36 PM

    As someone working in the UK, it's kind of jarring when you're saying a job offers unlimited time off, and it works out to taking about 3-4 weeks per year (varying by individual of course)!

    In this country the minimum annual leave a full time employee can be given in their contract is 28 days, which is generally the 8 national holidays and 20 days to take whenever. Where I work we get the 8 national holidays and then 25 days to take whenever, which is fairly average.

    Don't worry, once we've left the EU I suspect we'll lose many of our existing rights and move towards more of an American model anyway 😉.

    I think I would honestly struggle a little if I could take unlimited paid leave. Surely resentments almost inevitably build up between team mates? The one who's a bit of a martyr about taking time off, and the one who's a bit more free and easy in their approach (some might say lazy)? The company culture and approach would be crucial to the success of the scheme.

  • Eric M Russell - Wednesday, July 12, 2017 12:02 PM

    ZZartin - Wednesday, July 12, 2017 11:54 AM

    I doubt it's really as free form as take off whenever you want, unless you're working almost exclusively on solo projects that require little to no interaction with others that sounds like a recipe for being able to blame employees for not being available when needed.

    Yes, and being able to work remotely anytime and anywhere would make it even more confusing and troublesome. If your coworkers don't see you walk in the door, then they'll assume you're a slacker who has taken yet another PTO day. If you're not generally liked, then it will be very easy for coworkers to make assumptions first and ask questions later.

    The rest of my team works in a different time zone than me so they can't tell if I'm in the office or working remote since I have our instant messenger up and I'm on the calls. Not every team is located in the same office and if they're looking for scapegoats you should probably be looking for another job.

  • Beatrix Kiddo - Thursday, July 13, 2017 8:56 AM

    killer.turtle13 - Wednesday, July 12, 2017 4:36 PM

    As someone working in the UK, it's kind of jarring when you're saying a job offers unlimited time off, and it works out to taking about 3-4 weeks per year (varying by individual of course)!

    In this country the minimum annual leave a full time employee can be given in their contract is 28 days, which is generally the 8 national holidays and 20 days to take whenever. Where I work we get the 8 national holidays and then 25 days to take whenever, which is fairly average.

    Don't worry, once we've left the EU I suspect we'll lose many of our existing rights and move towards more of an American model anyway 😉.

    I think I would honestly struggle a little if I could take unlimited paid leave. Surely resentments almost inevitably build up between team mates? The one who's a bit of a martyr about taking time off, and the one who's a bit more free and easy in their approach (some might say lazy)? The company culture and approach would be crucial to the success of the scheme.

    This "take unlimited vacation at your own discretion" concept is perhaps consistent with American ideals in the sense that each employee becomes more of a self directed entrepreneur. If you're caught up on all your work, then you reward yourself with more vacation days, or if you feel you're falling behind, then you cut back. It would be your own choice, and you live with the consequences. But to make it work there must actually be consequences. The company would have to have a very effective process in place for measuring progress of deliverables and employee performance, otherwise chaos and excessive shrinkage would ensue.

    "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Instead, seek what they sought." - Matsuo Basho

  • There would definitely have to be consequences. Good managers should manage these things as a matter of course, but very few managers are actually good. It's the same with remote working. A good manager knows whether an employee is delivering regardless of where they sit to do the work.

  • Where I work now, we use a SCRUM based project management and team model for developers and something more like Kanban for DBAs. I know that a couple of the tenants of SCRUM are co-location of team members and face-to-face meetings, but I still believe this actually lends itself well for remote team members and flexible PTO, because what the scrum board and daily stand-up meetings actually do is enforce the extra transparency, accountability, and collaboration needed to keep everyone focused and on the same page. As a team member you would have to know where you stand in terms of the overall deliverable and your own tasks in order to judge when to take time off.

    "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Instead, seek what they sought." - Matsuo Basho

  • Pros
    Treats employees as adults.
    Usually no waiting period before you can use vacation.
    Employees don't have to earn more time by staying with one employer. No 2 weeks year 1, 3 weeks year 3, one additional day for each year after kind of thing.
    Company doesn't have to track vacation.
    Sounds good to potential employees company is trying to recruit.
    More flexibility.

    Cons
    Employees don't accrue vacation so they are not paid for unused vacation if they leave the company.
    Company loses the ability to reward employees with extra days off. Manager: you've all been working hard. The company doesn't have any money for a bonus. Take off Friday. Employees: Wait a second. I've got unlimited time off, how is this a reward?
    Manager is made responsible for fairness of time off by his/her employees.
    Employees may feel pressure or guilt to work more than they would under a defined benefit vacation policy.
    Employees are no longer rewarded for their years of service by gaining extra vacation.
    It's a misnomer. It's not really unlimited. There is a business to be run after all.

    I've worked for 32 years in software development. 5 years of that time was with a startup that had an unlimited PTO policy. Here's my experience working there as a manager of 12 developers and qa:

    The company policy was unlimited time off with manager approval. I asked HR for advice on what was usual. The prior policy was 17 days per year. Allow the employees a week off a couple of times a year and a day or two off at a few other times. I checked with my management peers and they said their folks took 3 to 4 weeks.
    I tracked my employees time off over 5 years. The average was 14 days a year, with a couple 17 and a couple (myself included) averaging 11. My boss averaged about 5 days (maybe less).

    Personally I prefer a defined vacation period benefit. I like knowing what the rules are. That said, I've worked under some lousy plans. I worked for a couple of software startups where the policy was 2 weeks a year until 6 years of service. On the other hand, the best plan was when I worked for a large European mobile phone maker and after 12 years had 25 vacation days and 5 personal days per year. At this point in my life, 3 weeks of vacation per year is my minimum. I am thankful I'm working at a company that allows 4.

  • Beatrix Kiddo - Thursday, July 13, 2017 8:56 AM

    killer.turtle13 - Wednesday, July 12, 2017 4:36 PM

    As someone working in the UK, it's kind of jarring when you're saying a job offers unlimited time off, and it works out to taking about 3-4 weeks per year (varying by individual of course)!

    In this country the minimum annual leave a full time employee can be given in their contract is 28 days, which is generally the 8 national holidays and 20 days to take whenever. Where I work we get the 8 national holidays and then 25 days to take whenever, which is fairly average.

    Don't worry, once we've left the EU I suspect we'll lose many of our existing rights and move towards more of an American model anyway 😉.

    I think I would honestly struggle a little if I could take unlimited paid leave. Surely resentments almost inevitably build up between team mates? The one who's a bit of a martyr about taking time off, and the one who's a bit more free and easy in their approach (some might say lazy)? The company culture and approach would be crucial to the success of the scheme.

    Yaaaaaay, who needs the EHCR anyway? (Not that leaving the EU means we have to leave that, but Brexit means Brexit!)

    I agree about the unlimited vs defined leave. I tend to overthink and second guess myself a lot, I prefer a clearly defined figure.

  • It was interesting both reading Andy's post from 5 years back, as well as the comments. After all, who knew how our lives would radically change in the interim.

    Of the comments made when this was originally posted, the one that hits home for me is from poster mhmobley. At about the same time this was posted, my employer elected to increase the level of employees that would get "unlimited" time versus a set amount of PTO time based on time and service. A lot of people got some extra pay as their accrued time hours had to be paid to them.

    And therein lies the rub: A *lot* of people... Companies have to allow for that money on their books from year to year. Also, it could be easily seen that we were not taking all the time available to us for vacations. mhmobley noted that the average time taken was 14 days. If that included Saturdays and Sundays, it meant only two weeks vacation was being used by most, and the other days just built up. So, in trade for a one time financial hit, a lot of us were transitioned to the model where as long as we got our work done it didn't matter how much time was taken. And what do you know? Total time averages don't change but there is no extra money that has to be kept on the books for an eventual payout.

    Granted, that means we need to be sure to manage our own time and not let ourselves be married to our jobs. But it is a win for companies, too, because it helps the financials. I thus make sure I take as close as possible the 4 or 5 weeks per year that under the previous rules I was subjected to (based on my time here) that I would have accrued otherwise. And when I'm gone I make sure to completely disconnect from work - laptop and company phone stays home and the like.

  • I tried to make sure I am not repeating myself by commenting on this topic, but didn't see anything in the history at least for this article.  My feelings are that you need to be careful what you ask for in this area.  I relate this to the whole idea of remote working, which I unabashedly do not favor.  Showing up for work and being available and involved is a charactistic of a good and valuable employee.

    I will assume that most if not all of you are fairly conscientious in this area, but that is not the case with everyone.  My opinion is that a certain amount of regimentation and supervision actually does lots to promote fairness and equity and discipline.

    Especially in a function such as that of DBA, the level of ongoing attention to detail is critical but at the same time fairly easy to slack off on without being noticed, possibly until it is too late.

    My first experience with remote working was even at my own suggestion back in the early days of high fuel prices when I proposed remote work one day per week per person to save the cost of commute,  All I will say is that it did not work out well for those most committed to their responsibility.

    Rather, I like the concept of UNPAID time off.  Shortly after I took an early retirement I was contacted to see if I was interested in returning to work on a contract basis.   Part of the deal negotiated was that I could take a REASONABLE amount of UNPAID time off from a daily schedule for travel and enjoyment.  This worked out well for me, and I didn't ever feel resentment from fellow workers.

    I would even be in favor of a more limited amount of PAID leave with the individual option of an amount of UNPAID time off at the discreetion of the employee AND the company.  In the long run this seems to me the most equitable.  I put this in the light of the  practice that may not even be current of starting new employees with a minimal amount of vacation with a ramped-up amount over a period of time.  Even this I found to fairly easily negotiatble when starting a new position.  In one case I was even credited with the first year's allotment of paid vacation hours on the first day at work.

    I'll just add another thought to this.  Consider how your personal reputation in using this option might affect your ability to negotiate salary level as years pass in your position.  How is your manager going to feel about granting a raise if he objects to your use of PTO.  Related to this, you don't have to just sit and wait for your default year-end salary review and blanket raise.  Schedule a meeting with your boss and have a prepared presentation of the contributions you make, your accomplishments, and even a proposed new salary.

    Rick

    One of the best days of my IT career was the day I told my boss if the problem was so simple he should go fix it himself.

  • My company implemented an unlimited PTO policy shortly before the COVID pandemic.  In the first year, pretty much everybody was working from home and pretty much nobody was taking PTO (because who wants to go out to a high traffic vacation area during a pandemic?).  The timing was just bad.

    Enough people were apparently miffed that we went from a "we can accrue" policy to a "we can't accrue and we're not using our PTO" that the company made a one-time across-the-board extended winter break.  Take the time off, you deserve it.  Very nice of them.

    Now that people are more accustomed to COVID and we're actually taking vacations and travelling a bit more, I still feel that the new policy is unsatisfying.  In the past, I could see how much time my staff had or hadn't taken across years ("Bob has 2 leftover weeks").  This kind of thing gets lost now, and some people may look at their peers and say "how come Bob gets to take so much time off this year?".  There's more suspicion that others are abusing the system, even if on average they're not.

    I agree with Andy though, it works better than I thought it would.

  • What I'd really like to see are companies that stop punishing people for not taking time off.  I've had more vacation just vanish because I had more on the books that the allowable limit.  What I'd like to see is for companies to start paying people for those roll-offs instead of it just disappearing in thin air.

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.
    "Change is inevitable... change for the better is not".

    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)
    Intro to Tally Tables and Functions

  • Jeff Moden wrote:

    What I'd really like to see are companies that stop punishing people for not taking time off.  I've had more vacation just vanish because I had more on the books that the allowable limit.

    Jeff, I agree that's unfair but part of it is on you.  You should take the benefits that you're entitled to, and not feel guilty about it.  It's good for you and it's even good for the company because you'll be fresher after getting away from work for a while.

    On the other hand, if you haven't taken the time off because the company always has an important deadline and they pressure you not to, that's something else.  They should definitely extend your limit, or pay you for it, or something.  That's just not right.

  • larry.blake wrote:

    Jeff Moden wrote:

    What I'd really like to see are companies that stop punishing people for not taking time off.  I've had more vacation just vanish because I had more on the books that the allowable limit.

    Jeff, I agree that's unfair but part of it is on you.  You should take the benefits that you're entitled to, and not feel guilty about it.  It's good for you and it's even good for the company because you'll be fresher after getting away from work for a while.

    On the other hand, if you haven't taken the time off because the company always has an important deadline and they pressure you not to, that's something else.  They should definitely extend your limit, or pay you for it, or something.  That's just not right.

    larry.blake wrote:

    Jeff Moden wrote:

    What I'd really like to see are companies that stop punishing people for not taking time off.  I've had more vacation just vanish because I had more on the books that the allowable limit.

    Jeff, I agree that's unfair but part of it is on you.  You should take the benefits that you're entitled to, and not feel guilty about it.  It's good for you and it's even good for the company because you'll be fresher after getting away from work for a while.

    On the other hand, if you haven't taken the time off because the company always has an important deadline and they pressure you not to, that's something else.  They should definitely extend your limit, or pay you for it, or something.  That's just not right.

     

    Agreed.  If a company allowws you to build a backlog of vacation or PTO without using it, they increase their liability that you will suddenly want to be absent several months and they will have to cover your function long-term at additional expense.   I do think that you should be allowed to 'bank' PTO if you are doing it to aid in  a major project or to cover some specific need but there need to be limits. and prior agreements.

    I do think it is your responsibility to stay on top of the situation and not wait until  some uncomfortable circumstance arises.  From my experience I learned that managers and companies don't respond as well to surprises.  I could usually work things out, even if 'off the books'.  A reasonable manager might let you record the time as used and then simply disappear at an agreed time.  Most places I worked didn't have a daily headcount.

    Nutshell:  Don't wait until after the fact to reach an arrangement.  And if you do, get over it.

    Rick

    One of the best days of my IT career was the day I told my boss if the problem was so simple he should go fix it himself.

  • We can "sell" PTO back to the company for pay each year. Capped at 5 days, but on the years I haven't used all mine, it's a nice benefit.

  • skeleton567 wrote:

    larry.blake wrote:

    Jeff Moden wrote:

    What I'd really like to see are companies that stop punishing people for not taking time off.  I've had more vacation just vanish because I had more on the books that the allowable limit.

    Jeff, I agree that's unfair but part of it is on you.  You should take the benefits that you're entitled to, and not feel guilty about it.  It's good for you and it's even good for the company because you'll be fresher after getting away from work for a while.

    On the other hand, if you haven't taken the time off because the company always has an important deadline and they pressure you not to, that's something else.  They should definitely extend your limit, or pay you for it, or something.  That's just not right.

    larry.blake wrote:

    Jeff Moden wrote:

    What I'd really like to see are companies that stop punishing people for not taking time off.  I've had more vacation just vanish because I had more on the books that the allowable limit.

    Jeff, I agree that's unfair but part of it is on you.  You should take the benefits that you're entitled to, and not feel guilty about it.  It's good for you and it's even good for the company because you'll be fresher after getting away from work for a while.

    On the other hand, if you haven't taken the time off because the company always has an important deadline and they pressure you not to, that's something else.  They should definitely extend your limit, or pay you for it, or something.  That's just not right.

    Agreed.  If a company allowws you to build a backlog of vacation or PTO without using it, they increase their liability that you will suddenly want to be absent several months and they will have to cover your function long-term at additional expense.   I do think that you should be allowed to 'bank' PTO if you are doing it to aid in  a major project or to cover some specific need but there need to be limits. and prior agreements.

    I do think it is your responsibility to stay on top of the situation and not wait until  some uncomfortable circumstance arises.  From my experience I learned that managers and companies don't respond as well to surprises.  I could usually work things out, even if 'off the books'.  A reasonable manager might let you record the time as used and then simply disappear at an agreed time.  Most places I worked didn't have a daily headcount.

    Nutshell:  Don't wait until after the fact to reach an arrangement.  And if you do, get over it.

    Heh... I should know... I've been dedicated to the company and should know the difference between "Dedication" and "Loyalty" (even though I'm the only DBA)... You have to think about "Ham" and "Eggs"... the chicken was "Loyal"... the pig was "Dedicated".

     

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.
    "Change is inevitable... change for the better is not".

    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)
    Intro to Tally Tables and Functions

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