Thoughts on "unlimited PTO"? I'm interviewing at a place that keeps bringing it up as a benefit. They say that corporate supports people taking a week to two weeks off. Maybe I'm cynical, but I've heard that at companies that offer this this, people rarely use the PTO or the PTO is rarely approved. What have your experiences been with this?

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It’s a way for them to not have to pay out if you leave. And it’s always the “yeah we have unlimited PTO, don’t take advantage ;)” garbage

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“unlimited PTO” is touted as a benefit, but in reality, there are a few tendencies that loose studies have shown: - the same people who took time off before will take time off now. and usually not any more or less. the same people who didn’t take it off before, won’t take it off. in other words, there are rarely abusers of the system or people who suddenly feel like taking time off is easier. if there were, agencies wouldn’t do it. - people will take a day off here and there without too much concern, so that’s a plus. - agencies usually only “approve” around the same 2-3 weeks of PTO as they would were it not unlimited, more as a cultural expectation than firm “we only approve this much” (see your original post OP) - agencies do this because they no longer have to earmark money to pay out people for unused PTO when they leave. this could save them millions of dollars in their bank account. that being said, there are definitely good agencies that honor the unlimited PTO idea, but the problem isn’t the agency, it’s our culture. basically, unlimited PTO isn’t a bad thing, but i’m not convinced it’s a better thing for the employees. definitely is for the agency. the main issue is the US culture doesn’t make vacationing or time off an expectation, like many european countries do (who will take a month off at a time, sometimes a couple times a year…plus lots of mat/pat leave). until we get comfortable with something like that, unlimited PTO is a moot point that saves agencies money.

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We’re unlimited PTO. 4-5 weeks is the norm. anything over a week at a time requires SVP approval but is usually given. anything else is done by the manager and approved unless too many people are out. meet your hours target. don’t screw your team. take your time off. the one caveat - it doesn’t cash out when you leave.

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Having had it, I’d say more often than not it’s more a stick than a carrot. You feel guilty for every day you take off. They can keep you busy enough that there’s never a good time. And I’ve even seen “taking too much pto” quoted when laying someone off even though all of the time was approved. When you have, say, 22 vacation days a year, they’re yours. You’re owed them. When the agency lets you take 22 vacation days a year, they’re the good guy? No. It flips the power dynamic in their favor.

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It should be illegal. It’s obviously abused by corporations. It’s a reaction to some state laws that require payouts of unused vacation days.

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ACD 1 sadly in the US we get zero guaranteed days off legally.

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It depends on your coworkers... how often they and your manager take PTO ends up setting the standard by which you feel you can take PTO. My wife is at a company with unlimited PTO and she hates it. She feels she can never take it especially a whole week since at most the other employees only take a day or two off every few months.

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I just take what they offered before they went to unlimited. I also right-size the weekends worked. And I tell my direct reports to do the same.

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i had unlimited at a shop, we’d usually take a day or two a month and maybe a full week around twice a year; work was always done on time, people always had coverage, nobody was picking up double work, and if you wanted more, it would usually get approved that said, it depends on how the company or office offering said PTO honors it. I was lucky, mine did. Not all do

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BS.

Have unlimited- I easily get up to two weeks at least every quarter

I mean, good for you. No creative could get away with this, but it tracks with strat.

Ask them how many non medical PTO days were actually taken by the team in the last 12 months. And use the answer as your barometer. It will depend heavily from company to company.

I am not suggesting asking the question in the interview if that wasn’t clear. I would ask the HR lead after an offer was made or right before.

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A week to two weeks for the year, or a week to two weeks at a time? If it’s for the year then yeah that doesn’t sound like a benefit. My last 2 jobs have been at agencies with unlimited PTO and I prefer it because I take a lot of vacations so I wouldn’t get paid out anyway. I’ve never had a problem getting time approved. I usually take a 2 week vacation, another week, and then random 1-3 days off throughout the year. So if you like taking time off just take advantage of the unlimited PTO and don’t feel bad asking for it.

Unlimited is a lie. It means no minimum, but there is certainly a maximum and ways to keep you from ever using it. The only time I've ever seen it done right was at my first agency back in 2012. We had 4 weeks off per year (the standard for the country I was in) and were allowed to take "unlimited" leave on top of that. I once had 6 weeks of fully paid leave in a year because I took extra days here and there and a couple of multi-week holidays. We had to stop that once we grew past 25 people though. It still wasn't unlimited, but it was actually a perk rather than management fuckery.

pick your first 10 days of pto at the beginning of the year and stick to them. I did it in january and I have planned trips for the days I picked or just taken the time off anyways. and plus I’ve had things come up that I’ve taken additional time for too. this is the best way to help yourself take at least the minimum 10 days off

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