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October 20, 2022
Weighing Pros and Cons of Unlimited PTO

by Jayda Cruz

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Q             We have about 120 employees and are considering moving to unlimited paid time off (PTO). What are the pros and cons of switching to such a system?

The pros and cons of unlimited PTO policies are hotly debated. Some pros include:

Increased productivity: Some people believe unlimited PTO may incentivize employees to accomplish more during their workdays to be able to take time off while still meeting deadlines and finishing assignments. The sentiment of burnout may also be reduced.

Flexibility: Another theory is that employees will have the ability to control their schedule and get things done when the time works best for them, thereby contributing to increased productivity and overall performance. Employees can more easily tend to their responsibilities in their families or with their children.

Overall well-being of employees: Unlimited PTO may also increase employee mental and physical well-being by allowing them to take time off whenever needed to refresh and reset, thereby increasing their desire to work and the quality of work-product. It also eliminates the feeling of needing to come into work when sick and can reduce the spread of illnesses.

Cost savings: Unlimited PTO may save you money since you wouldn’t need to pay an employee for time off that wasn’t actually used during the calendar year. Additionally, it would alleviate the cost of having HR staff spend time tracking employee hours or time off.

On the other hand, some cons include:

Absent coworkers: Unlimited PTO allows employees to take more time away from the office, which may make it more difficult for employees to work together or on a team because of different schedules and availability. This may also result in an isolating office environment or harm company culture.

Potential for abuse: There’s always the potential of employees abusing unlimited PTO by taking several weeks or months of time off without getting work done. The potential for abuse is heightened by the unclear expectations of an unlimited PTO system and the difficulty in disciplining abuse.

Maximum PTO: You should also check for state-specific laws that may affect maximum PTO.

Under Connecticut General Statute Sec. 31-57s, service workers are entitled to accrue “one hour of paid sick leave for each [40] hours worked . . . and in one-hour increments up to a maximum of [40] hours per calendar year” (emphasis added). Also, “each service worker shall be entitled to carry over up to [40] unused accrued hours of paid sick leave from the current calendar year to the following calendar year, but no service worker shall be entitled to use more than the maximum number of accrued hours” (emphasis added).

People covered by this statute are employees “in certain service occupations (such as registered nurses, food preparation workers, retail workers, etc.) in Connecticut for an employer with 50 or more workers.”

Jayda Cruz is summer associate with Carlton Fields in Hartford, Connecticut.

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