What If You’re Offered Unlimited Vacation Time?
Careful Of Taking Too Much Or Too Little Holiday Entitlement
By Mark Swartz
Monster Contributing Writer
If you love your paid vacation time, listen closely. A new policy—one that provides unlimited holiday entitlement—has made its appearance in Canada.
It sounds like an employee’s dream. Take all the paid days off you want. So long as you’re work gets done the boss is happy. Talk about a way to regain work/life balance!
Except there may be some hidden downsides to watch for. And only a few employers offer this perk here so far.
Is It For Real?
There’s something jarring about no limits on paid holidays. In Canada we’re used to just 19 days of vacation after one year’s work. That includes all statutory holidays. It’s a stark contrast to the concept of unrestrained breaks.
Yet it’s catching on in the U.S. More than one percent of employers now feature this perk. The notion is simple. Instead of the employer keeping track of days off, a task that’s getting harder as more people use technology to work away from the office, the employee gets a limitless vacation entitlement.
They do have to get their boss’s advance approval for holiday plans. This reduces the risk of being understaffed.
Who’s Offering It?
Unlimited vacation is only just making its debut in Canada. The number of employers where it’s available is low but growing. Here are a few examples.
· EllisDon is a leading Canadian builder. They have an unlimited policy for time off. Employees are permitted requests for paid holidays as they need them, rather than according to a vacation schedule.
· RL Solutions is a software provider for safer healthcare solutions. They are headquartered in Toronto, with offices in the U.S. and abroad. On their Careers page, unlimited vacations are described as follows: “We don't restrict your vacation days because we trust you not to abuse the privilege. RL staff take their breaks when they need them.”
· Karos Health Inc. also is a healthcare-focused software company, helping to exchange vital information across communities and enterprises. Along with unlimited vacation it offers flexible hours and time off to help with a charity of the employee’s choosing.
No More Counting The Days
Imagine not having to tally your vacation days or dispute your entitlement. That three week holiday in the summer you’ve fancied could be yours. Getaways in each and every season are possible as well.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of this perk is stress reduction. You’d no longer have to make up excuses to take time off for yourself.
When you’re back and relaxed, you feel healthier and sharper. Your productivity rises. You may also feel more loyal to your employer. That’s precisely what they’re counting on.
OK, What’s The Catch?
Anything that sounds too good to be true usually is. Unlimited vacation is no different. Your reputation is at stake when it comes to managing days off.
Take too many and people may start wondering if maybe you aren’t busy enough. If they’re stuck back in the office grinding away, that could easily lead to resentment. It could also give the impression that your position might not be as crucial to the company as you thought it was.
Jealousy can be an issue too. Some people are highly productive, so they get their work done quicker. They’re able to take more time off as a result. Friction can mount when that person is away for extended periods, while others feel chained to their work (wishing for a four hour workday).
Another downside is that the more days you’re on leave, the less chance you have for workplace serendipity; you know, those chance encounters where you’re in the right place at the right time. Like when the boss rushes in asking for immediate help with an issue.
How Unlimited Vacation Can Backfire
The biggest problem with not having fixed vacation days is that some people feel pressured to take less time off than normal.
This can happen in workplaces where face-time is rewarded. Or where workaholic behaviour is encouraged. Instead of people spending more days on holiday, they worry they’ll be seen as lazy and replaceable. Next thing you know they handcuff themselves to the office to prove their worth.
Get More Vacation Regardless
It’s unlikely that unlimited vacation will come to your workplace soon. But that doesn’t mean you have to accept minimum holiday entitlements.
Instead, look for jobs with the most paid days off. Then start planning those cherished getaways. You deserve time away from the pressures of work.