Vacation Days, PTO and Unlimited, What Are The Differences

There are 168 hours in week, you sleep about 49 hours (if you’re lucky), give 40 hours+ to your employer which leaves you with about 11 hours a day (not including the time to get ready for work, prepare your meals, eat your meals, commute, drop off and pick up kiddos etc.) In short, your time is very precious. If you are in the process of looking for a new job or negotiating a new job, PTO or vacation time is a chip that can be played if the new company’s time off is not adequate.

PTO is a bank of time an employee earns while employed at a company, that bank includes vacation, personal days and sick days and sometimes holidays. Some companies allow you to rollover unused time, some companies have a use it or lose it policy – very important to find out where things stand prior to accepting the job. When you accept the job, you are accepting all terms the company has presented, it will be very difficult to negotiate from there. More and more HR departments are leaning toward this type of policy, with hourly and salary employees “punching in”, each hour of an employee’s time is accounted for.

When a company presents you with vacation days, those are strictly the number of days you are allowed to be absent from the company and the company will pay you. Sometimes you are allowed to split the days and take half days, with this kind of employee benefit plan, companies will also offer you sick days and sometimes personal days too. Similar to PTO, there are no federal rules in place as to what happens to your unused vacation or PTO at the end of the year, you may be able to roll days over into next year, you may simply lose them.

A new policy that many tech startups are taking is the unlimited vacation days. The businesses that have put this policy into place find it to be exceptionally effective in employees getting their work done in a timely manner and because many of us have been trained on vacation days and PTO, we are not greedy in taking vacation, in fact, having the autonomy to determine when and how we vacation makes us feel free and casual about it. There aren’t the stressors of how much we have, when we dole out the time/days and what’s left at the end of the year. It’s also a nonpoint in new hire negotiations as well.

Your personal and professional time is very precious. Prior to accepting a new position, be sure you fully understand the benefits package and if you aren’t happy, negotiate it!

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