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Open-ended or Unlimited Vacation Policy  
Posted: 09/15/2009 01:08pm   230 Views
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 Does anyone have a sample policy and feedback on the pro/cons on the unlimited vacation policy.  Essentially, vacation or time off is not tracked at the exempt level.

Thank you!


Open-ended or Unlimited Vacation Policy  
Posted: 09/15/2009 02:05pm  

Hope this helps.

Is it time to stop tracking employees' vacation time?

It’s tough to measure the true scope of the trend, but more and more businesses are experimenting with unconventional time-off rules and benefits, including taking a much more flexible approach to monitoring employees’ vacation and personal leave.

Among the latest examples:

  • At technology giant IBM, each of its 355,000 workers is entitled to three or more weeks of vacation, but the company says it doesn’t officially keep track of the time off. The amount of vacation days isn’t ruled by seniority, and the time-off doesn’t carry over from year to year if unused.
  • At electronics retailer Best Buy, a flexible-work program called “Results Oriented Work Environment” gives its 4,000 corporate employees the freedom to do their jobs without regard to the hours they put in daily—opening up the ability to take personal time off without a lot of prior approvals and scheduling rules.
  • Online DVD distributor Netflix doesn't allocate a specific number of vacation days to its 400 salaried employees.

What’s happening? In essence, employers are rethinking their traditional time-off policies in an effort to meet valued employees’ needs for flexibility—and boosting productivity and retention at the same time.

Even more flexible than PTO

Plenty of companies have recently instituted paid time off (PTO) banks in lieu of rigid leave plans that designate a specific number of days for vacation, sick leave and personal time off. PTO banks set a total number of days off that employees can use for any reason.

But newer leave plans go even further, doing away with the concept of tracking leave time altogether.

Instead, employees make informal personal time and vacation arrangements with their managers when it suits them, guided mainly by their ability to perform their jobs successfully.

As with any new trend, the strategies have prompted some pros and cons.

The upside? Reduced HR and supervisor record-keeping and administrative burden; better employee morale; and increased productivity and efficiency.

The downside? Pressure on employees to always be on call, blurry boundaries between work time and time off and a greater temptation for employees to exploit the system.

Legal risks for employers

But is the hands-off, unlimited approach to personal time off a wise move for every employer? Some employment-law attorneys warn that such informal attitudes could put employers at risk in certain situations.

For starters, such a plan typically can’t apply to hourly, nonexempt workers—which could spark employee resentment over unequal perks if your work force includes both salaried and hourly staff.

Unlimited leave plans could also become a problem if a group of workers challenged its nonexempt status—your record-keeping and pay and benefits practices would surely be scrutinized. And, unintentionally limiting your time-off perk to certain classes of employees—like administrative or salespeople—could result in a discrimination claim.

Secondly, unlimited, untracked leave could make it difficult to monitor the true reasons behind employees’ absences—reasons that could trigger your responsibilities under the ADA, FMLA, workers’ compensation or other disability benefits. At what point could time off become an accommodation, for example, if you’re completely unaware of an employee’s undesignated leave?

Bottom line: Vacation pay is a heavily litigated issue. As an “accrued” benefit, employees are entitled to a proportionate share of vacation pay for every day worked, unless your company clearly specifies otherwise. In other words, vacation time is “earned” time; it belongs to the employee.

Is Unlimited Vacation a Good Thing?

More companies are experimenting with this. But it may not be as great as it sounds.

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size By ALISON LOBRON July 20, 2008

Depending on your perspective, Steve Swasey is either an oppressed worker or the luckiest guy in the world. As a salaried employee at video-rental giant Netflix, Swasey has no set number of vacation days. He can spend as much time out of his California office as he wants, provided, of course, that he gets all his work done. And there's the hitch: Like many of today's competitive professionals, Swasey always has more work that he could do.

"We're always on, 24/7," says Swasey, a Netflix spokesman, who admits to checking his BlackBerry throughout a recent trip to Chile with his wife. Still, he insists cheerfully that he and his colleagues are "not being workaholic. It's being engaged with your job because you love what you do." Thanks to Netflix's unlimited vacation policy, Swasey leaves the office a lot. But the office usually goes with him.

As millions of Americans use up a chunk, or all, of their allotted days off this summer, a handful of businesses, mostly in high-tech, are experimenting with this idea of entrusting their professional-level workers with unlimited vacation time. Part of the appeal to employers is that with no official number of vacation days, workers can't accrue unused time and expect big payouts when they leave. But this approach also reflects technology's impact on our concept of "time on" and "time off." Since many white-collar employees now work remotely, it makes no sense to specify that they have two weeks away from the office, says Sandra Marcus, a manager at IBM's software group in Cambridge. IBM did away with tracking vacation time in the 1990s, and Marcus thinks her colleagues take about as many breaks as they did before the change. She likes the informal system and can't remember turning down an employee's request for a specific week off. But, like Swasey, Marcus also doesn't necessarily get away when she gets away. Last December, she took a Caribbean cruise with her husband - and spent an hour each day with her e-mail.

Because of technology's reach, some activists rightly worry that "unlimited vacation" is nothing more than corporate-speak for "no vacation at all." They worry that employees without a specified vacation allotment will feel pressure to work constantly, damaging their relationships, their health, and the nails on their BlackBerry-typing fingers. Bonnie Michaels is a board member at Take Back Your Time, a nonprofit organization focused on work/life balance. She has no problem with informal vacation policies, so long as managers create a culture where employees really can take breaks. "People are always afraid of taking time off if everybody else isn't doing it," says Michaels. A recession can compound that problem. When people feel insecure about their jobs and their wallets, "they probably won't take the time," she says.

Michaels's organization wants the government to require a minimum number of paid vacation days for everyone. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the United States is the only advanced economy without such a mandate. (France leads the pack with 30 required vacation days; aside from the United States, Japan sets the lowest bar, with 10.) About a quarter of private-sector US workers have no paid vacations at all, and the lower your salary, the more likely it is you'll fall into that unlucky group.

Mandated time off may well improve conditions for low-wage workers, but it probably won't address the relaxation needs of professionals. For them, the issue increasingly isn't lack of vacation so much as a shift in what vacation means - namely, that employees can vacate the office physically, but not mentally. And that seems to be leading to an even more insidious message: Committed workers should not want a total separation. "Some people really need to get away and rejuvenate. That might not be the right kind of person for Netflix," Steve Swasey says.

Professionals at all levels should be worried if the desire for a vacation without phone messages and e-mails starts to be defined as a deviancy, or even just considered an unattractive employee trait. Whether a company's vacation leave is specified or not, thoughtful managers recognize that most of us do better work when we get a chance to recharge our batteries - and not just the ones in our PDAs.

Alison Lobron

Seen this? http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/08/05/other-companies-should-have-to-read-this-internal-netflix-presentation/


Open-ended or Unlimited Vacation Policy  
Posted: 09/15/2009 02:16pm  

Companies Including IBM, Best Buy, Netflix, and Motley Fool Do Not Track Vacation Leave—Some organizations allow. While a conclusive analysis of the results of such initiatives is not yet available, Best Buy reports a reduction in turnover


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