Unlimited Vacation Policy: the flip side of flexibility

“No vacation goes unpunished.” – Karl Hakkarainen

These days, many companies are experimenting with what is described as an unlimited vacation policy but career writers are asking if this is nothing more than corporate-speak for no vacation at all.
Marci Alboher at Shifting Careers gives these details:
One of the trendy perks at progressive companies is unlimited vacation time. The pitch is that responsible adults are capable of managing their own time so why not allow them to decide which hours and days to work as long as the work gets done. It’s yet one more way that the employed are starting to resemble the self-employed.
She points readers to this article in The Boston Globe Magazine that contemplates if this policy is really such a good thing. At first glance, it rings of work life balance, but does it actually result in people taking less time off?

I’ve worked at companies that offered unlimited vacation time and I prefer having the number of weeks noted upfront in my employment contract. After all, when you have a set number of vacation days, it gives you permission to really take them.

But an article in BusinessWeek thinks vacation policies are antiquated:

Counting days and hours is a holdover from the industrial era that makes no sense for information workers who can do their jobs without being at their desks at set hours, proponents of such changes say.
The tethered 24/7 connection to work brings up another great point. Here a Microsoft employee calls it unlimited time off with a side order of guilt by asking this question:
What would you rather have, unlimited vacation time with your laptop riding shotgun or a set amount of vacation time when you are seriously expected to be out of the office?
So is unlimited time off becoming a best practice for HR? Some argue this perk helps attract and retain motivated workers. Consider the Gen Yers who are known for not wanting to punch a clock and therefore expect more vacation time upon entering the rat race.

I doubt as Americans, we’ll ever get the same vacation time as our European counterparts, but do you think this trend is helping? Or is it creating the opposite effect? Please share your comments and experiences over at Queercents.

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