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Should Employers Offer Unlimited Vacation Days?

Allison Jones profile image

Allison Jones

The back of two beach chairs.

Lately, people have been buzzing about how many companies, like Netflix, offer unlimited vacation days. In fact, this isn’t limited to businesses; the nonprofit charity:water also offers unlimited vacation time to its staff.

So what are the benefits and drawbacks of an unlimited vacation time policy? And is vacation time a priority for employees in the first place? Over on the New York Times, they invited five experts to chime in on what this could mean for employees and employers. Dharmesh Shah, the founder of inbound marketing company HubSpot who also made the case for unlimited vacation days in TIME Magazine, argues that we need a policy that reflects the new way people work:

"The way in which people work has fundamentally changed, and the relationship between the employee and employer should change too. Your employees work anytime and anywhere, using their smartphones and managing feedback and work with cloud-based applications. And yet, as the world rapidly changes around us, too many companies and managers are holding on to time cards and vacation logs by saying that they maintain productivity, encourage honesty or ensure results. The exact opposite is true. An unlimited vacation policy benefits employees, managers and companies."

However, George Gresham, the president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, argues that while this might work for some employees and high-tech companies, the big issue is paid sick leave which many simply do not have access to.

"The real stress and danger to productivity in the workplace is the fact that over 44 million American workers have a tough time taking a single sick day without losing their job. Forty percent of the private-sector work force has no paid sick days whatsoever. Seventy-five percent of food service and hotel workers, and a majority of caregivers in child care centers and nursing homes, don’t have a single paid sick day. When workers who prepare and serve our food and care for our families can’t stay home sick, it’s not only bad for employees, but also a drag on our economy and a threat to public health."

Read the entire debate on the New York Times.

Allison Jones profile image

Allison Jones

To better support our community of job seekers and changemakers, as well as strengthen Idealist's position as a great place for nonprofit jobs, Allison supports Idealist Career Advice by sharing stories and tips on how to find, land, and love your social-impact career. She is currently the VP of Brand and Storytelling at Common Future.

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