Unlimited Paid Time Off policy

An unlimited PTO policy that seeks to pre-emptively address the more common issues with such policies, including some evidence that staff are less likely to take time off in an unlimited PTO scheme. [Policy written by an organisation in the USA]


  1. Overview



Employ America has unlimited Paid Time Off (PTO) for all full-time, exempt staffers. There is no differentiation between sick leave, vacation, or other types of leave (other than where legally applicable). All paid time off should be approved by your manager in advance, when possible. Keep your calendar updated so your team knows when you’re available and not.

If you need to take a day off due to illness or emergency, please contact your manager in whatever way the two of you agree to (may be a text, phone call, email, carrier pigeon, etc) as soon as you’re able. Make sure to notify anyone else who needs to know as well, as you’re able. 

We’re aware that some people find unlimited PTO arrangements uncomfortable; in practice, many end up taking less time off than otherwise they’d be inclined to, because when there’s no clear expectation to take a certain amount of time off, it can be hard to figure out how much is “OK” to take. To avoid those issues, we do the following: 

  • We reinforce to managers that part of their job is building a healthy culture, which includes setting clear expectations for staff, and building a healthy team that isn’t burned out or feeling resentful or uncertain. 
  • We strongly encourage all staff to take at least 2 full weeks off each year for vacation, and set an explicit guideline that most staff should take between 2 and 3 weeks of vacation per year. No one wants to do math or keep tabs on your time spent out of the office, but our hope is that establishing this expectation helps alleviate the uncertainty that can accompany unlimited PTO. 
  • We close the organization between Christmas and New Years. It can be hard to feel good about taking a vacation when the rest of your team is still moving things forward; having a week that we all take off, during what’s almost always a slow time anyway, helps ease that pressure. 

Ultimately, the goal is to have a generous, flexible, and easy-to-administer PTO policy that truly empowers our team, where no one feels we’re being judged by how much time we spend at work, or how many hours a week we work, and where we all feel confident that we can do what we need to do to make our lives work, while having a job where we can make a big difference in the world. 

It is perfectly acceptable to use PTO (either regular leave or paid sick leave) to take a mental health day, as we all need from time to time. 

Contractors and vendors aren’t provided any paid leave by EA, as they are not employed by us, but we try to be flexible with everyone we work with to make sure they can take time away from work as they need to. 

We are fully compliant with any and all applicable laws around leave time, including family and medical leave. If any of our time off policies conflict with the law, the law prevails. 

Our policy is intended to be generous and to allow staff to take time off when they need it for whatever reason, including vacation, spending time with family, mourning, health, civic obligations, and stress relief. If we’re worried that you’re abusing the policy, we’ll talk to you about it. Otherwise, please feel welcome to take what you need.


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