Unlimited Holidays vs Fixed Leaves: What’s Better?

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Fixed leaves, unlimited leaves, pros cons of unlimited leaves, organisations with unlimited leaves

When it comes to deciding on a job offer, the number of annual leaves offered can be a deal breaker. With increasing number of organisations across the world offering ‘unlimited paid leave’ or ‘unlimited paid time off’, you would think you’ve hit gold when your potential future employer falls under that category. After all, being able to take unlimited leaves without taking a paycut sounds too good to be true. Is it? Maybe.

Read on to find out which organisation – the one with unlimited paid leaves or fixed yearly leaves – suits you the most and why.

Unlimited leaves: What works

  1. Inculcates a culture based on trust: When Virgin Group founder Richard Branson announced that around 170 employees of his company will be able to take as many paid leaves as they want, whenever they want, he was quoted saying, “Treat people as human beings, give them that flexibility, and I don’t think they’ll abuse it. They’ll get the job done.” When your super boss says that, you know the overall culture of the organisation is based on trust and respect. So, instead of misusing the privilege, you will want to do your best to not break that trust.
  2. Improves teamwork: The smooth functioning of teams is key to the success of any company. With the freedom to take unlimited leaves, it is obvious that the closeness between team members would increase. They will have to pitch in for the one who is on leave, knowing that the others will do the same when they are on a holiday. Instead of treating it as an obligation, team members will be happy to oblige.
  3. Avoids the year-end holiday rush: Remember how you had to let your yearly leaves lapse (with a heavy heart) last year as your colleague applied for leaves long before you did? It happens to the best of us. In case you have the freedom to take unlimited leaves, you will not have to ‘save’ your leaves for something unexpected and thus avoid the year-end rush when everyone wants to use up their pending leaves.

Unlimited leaves: What does not work

  1. You might actually end up taking fewer days off: Now this might come as a surprise to many! As ironic as it sounds, you end up taking fewer and shorter vacations when you are offered unlimited paid leave. Most employees feel quite overwhelmed and avoid the risk of going too far at all cost.
  2. You might fall for peer pressure: Since nobody in the company really knows the right number of days to take off annually, everyone waits for the other to make the move. So, if your senior or team members do not take too many leaves (for whatever reasons!), you might get into the pressure to stick to that low number too. So, in the end, you might miss the stipulated leave policy where everyone ought to take a fixed number of days off.
  3. You might risk your promotion or appraisal: If you do not believe in working in tandem with your team and go ahead and take many, many days off, it might postpone your promotion. Moreover, it could diminish the chances of you getting a solid increment. That’s because others, including your seniors, might end up feeling you are not dedicated or responsible enough. HHmmpphh! So much for the freedom to take unlimited leaves!

A few organisations giving unlimited leaves:

  • Netflix
  • LinkedIn
  • Virgin
  • HubSpot
  • General Electric
  • Grant Thornton
  • BestBuy
  • SurveyMonkey
  • Glassdoor
  • Groupon

Fixed leaves: What works

  1. You will definitely try to take the allotted fixed number of days off: Since your organisation has assigned a particular number of paid leaves to you, you will try your best to utilise them. This will help you plan your leaves well in advance so that it does not affect your workflow. Everyone in the organisation is allowed to take a set number of leaves. So, planning your leaves will not be a topic of discussion during appraisals.
  2. You could be entitled to leave encashment at year-end: Most organisations have a policy wherein employees who do not utilise a particular number of leaves can cash them at the end of the year. This benefit would not be applicable to organisations offering unlimited paid leaves.
  3. You would be more satisfied: If your organisation offers unlimited leaves, it is obvious that some employees will end up taking more leaves than the rest. This might create some sort of dissatisfaction among those who did not take more leaves. So, in a scenario where everyone takes or can take the same number of paid leaves, employees would feel they are all being treated fairly.

Fixed Leaves: What does not work

  1. Not enough flexibility: Since you will have a fixed number or sick leaves and privilege leaves, you will have to use them frugally and carefully. If you exhaust your sick leaves, taking unplanned holidays won’t be encouraged.
  2. Lack of loyalty: Allocating limited leaves to employees may indicate that your organisation does not trust you enough to take adult decisions. This might diminish the overall morale of employees and impact their loyalty.
  3. Not exciting enough: Having fixed paid leaves is so old school (and boooring!). When an organisation offers unlimited paid leaves, there is a sense of excitement to it! So, while the implementation of this policy might differ from one company to another, it looks super cool on paper. Unfortunately, having fixed leaves is not as attractive.

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