Unlimited Vacation Policy: Believe It or Not?


Different surveys reveal that during the last several years in the United States, employees tend to take less vacation days. This decrease is worrying, as it can affect both their family relations and friendships, as well as their health. It can also affect the quality of their work, as it is proven that when people are rested and happy, they improve their performance.

In an era in which work tends to be collaborative, and where knowledge and creativity are most valued, enterprises must create some conditions so that people can work with commitment and inspiration, and without stress.

Due to these factors, at Intraway we decided to implement a more flexible policy for the use of days off. It is a responsible unlimited vacation policy with clear guidelines. And it represents a stimulus for our staff to feel less pressure and more free to accommodate their work and personal life.

Question of trust

Recently many different companies have announced their intention to adapt to the unlimited vacations model. But some newspaper articles have been questioning the true reasons for the change. For example, authors have said that the real reason behind proposing this model was because fewer and fewer people are taking the entire holiday period. And this decrease in the amount of free days taken by the employees represents an extra expense for companies (who must pay for those days that employees do not use).

Another criticism is that the model of unlimited vacations could generate a confusing situation, while what people really need are clear parameters on how many days of vacation are acceptable or expected. And given this situation with no clear guidance, people could end up taking even less free time than before.

At Intraway we believe that the traditional policy of defined, accrued time off is not enough to relieve stress or encourage creativity. In a context where daily life is very accelerated, making the idea of free time more flexible can help people feel less pressured and not as anxious to quickly solve issues related to their family life, or problems with their health.

That’s why we developed a new policy: in addition to the vacation period that corresponds to each employee by law, we have added a series of additional paid days off. We proposed this “XL Days” benefit because we are interested in generating relations based on trust, commitment and freedom. We also seek to be flexible in a labor market where there is a lot of competition. In fact we see this policy as a way to strengthen loyalty: we seek to generate pride and a sense of belonging between our employees, and thus decrease the level of rotation.

When people are committed and have initiative, there is no need for rigid guidelines: a certain range of flexibility can be managed, and the limits have more to do with the needs of each person.

Flexibility with clear guidelines

The traditional vacation allows people to renew their energies and share quality time with their family and loved ones. But the allotted vacation time is not always enough. That is why we provide our staff with the possibility of accessing a number of additional free paid days to enjoy during the year, following an approval scheme. 

The unlimited vacations policy that we have developed is based on responsibility. It offers a benefit with clear limits and guidelines. In principle all our employees can request free paid days in addition to the vacations that correspond to them according to the law of each country. However, in order to request extra days, they must have at least one (1) year of seniority in our company. Besides they must provide 30 days notice, they can request a maximum of 7 days in a row, and they have to agree upon the free days with their team, as it is necessary to have someone who can fulfill their same function while they are away. They must also apply for approval from their boss. These guidelines mean that all those who want to enjoy the benefit collaborate with each other (teamwork), transmit their knowledge (knowledge sharing) and have a high performance level with management metrics that allow them to plan their tasks so as to meet their goals. These guidelines make our policy a flexible proposal with clear limits. 

Do you think the “XL Days” benefit –or as they call it in the US, responsible and unlimited vacations – is a good proposal for employees? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

*For more information about this benefit, please check this other post from our Learning & Development Manager, Natalia Zapaterra.

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