‘Unlimited vacation’ policy just won’t work at most companies

Q&A with Elizabeth Bowersox

published in The Oklahoman | December 31, 2015

While a few companies have made headlines and even had success in implementing unlimited paid time off vacation policies, it’s a concept that hasn’t gained much traction with the majority of employers.

Labor and employment attorney Elizabeth Bowersox was interviewed by The Oklahoman about the viability of ‘unlimited vacation’ policies. She said such policies are rare and typically best suited to companies whose workforces are comprised of salaried, exempt professionals who are able to discern how much time they need to be working and how much time they need off in order to be most efficient.

For the majority of employers, an unlimited paid vacation policy just isn’t feasible for a number of reasons.

“First, the policy is unsuited to hourly employees whose time must be tracked and recorded, said Bowersox. “Second, the policy isn’t always popular with employees, who tend to like clear expectations and having monetary value attached to unused vacation time.” “Third, laws regarding vacation pay and paid sick leave in states like California may be difficult to completely reconcile with an unlimited policy. Finally, a subjective standard for denying vacation time such as “business needs” will be difficult to administer impartially, which could open the door for discrimination complaints.”