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Some Companies Give Workers Unlimited Vacation

Businesses that try it say "endless summer" policies improve productivity when workers are in the office.

Ever wish that vacation could last just one more day?

In an effort to get employees to take their vacation so they can be more productive in the office, some companies have instituted a new concept: unlimited paid time off. Referred to as "endless summer" by some companies, it typically combines vacation, sick and personal days without any set limit.

The sunset view from Waikiki beach in Honolulu, Hawaii
Some companies are giving workers unlimited time off, saying it boosts their productivity in the office.JEWEL SAMAD / AFP - Getty Images

Although some notable companies have already embraced the idea, it's too early to call the concept a trend — The Society for Human Resource Management found that only 1 percent of companies are offering unlimited paid time off. But those that do are happy with the results.

At Netflix, "people appreciate the flexibility and do a good job of balancing their vacation time with those of others and the work we all aim to get done," said spokesman Jonathan Friedland.

Dan Price, founder and CEO of credit card processing company Gravity Payments in Seattle, agreed. "The idea is that you are now judging employees on their work and results," he said.

Price points to a positive example: "We have an employee whose mother continues to battle cancer. ... The unlimited PTO policy has allowed this employee to not spend time worrying about squirreling away vacation days, or the perception of having to risk his work reputation."

Although companies may worry that employees would abuse the policy, Bruce Elliott, manager of compensation and benefits for SHRM, said that most workers fear taking too much time off could damage their reputation. "What we see in some cases is a portion of the population taking less time," he said. More often than not, Elliott said, workers take about the same amount of time off as those with traditional paid-time-off benefits.

Companies also claim a financial win. Days off are not accrued, and if an employee leaves, a company doesn't have to pay them out for unused days.