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Lawyer Warns Employees Against Accepting Unlimited PTO If It's Presented As An Option

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Samy Harmoush, a workers' rights employment lawyer on TikTok, revealed the reasons why employees should be wary when it comes to the PTO policies offered by their jobs. According to him, employees should be most apprehensive about unlimited PTO, an opinion that sounds better in theory than practice.

He advised employees against accepting unlimited PTO if it's presented as an option.

Harmoush admitted that if he ever had to decide between accepting unlimited PTO or a definite number of days off throughout the calendar year, he would always choose the latter. While it may seem a bit bizarre to refuse unlimited PTO — which in theory allows employees to take off endless days at any time during the year — his reasoning boiled down to the wishy-washy promises that come with unlimited time off.

"Not only does [the definite number of PTO days] allow me to increase year over year and ask for that as a form of compensation, but if I'm in the state of California where I get to get paid out any PTO that I have accrued, I'm gonna get a nice fat check along with my final check when I resign from that job," he explained.

   

   

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Conversely, with unlimited time off, "It's kind of hard at the end of the day to determine if you're owed anything because you took all the time you needed."

A limited amount of PTO is easier to enforce and makes more sense in the grand scheme of a workplace flow, at least compared to unlimited PTO, which can be difficult to define and often consists of loopholes that confuse employees.

Of course, this doesn't apply to every company that has unlimited PTO, but if it isn't done right, or is implemented with bad intentions, employees generally won't use the days off or will be advised against it.

Most Americans with unlimited PTO feel as if they don't utilize it fully.

According to data compiled by Zippia, a company that matches job seekers with their ideal positions, 43.7% of employees with unlimited PTO don’t feel like they take enough vacation time.

Similarly, 37% of employees with unlimited PTO work during vacations and 42% always log on to their work email during their time off. 

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Still, as it stands, most employees refuse to use the PTO that's offered to them, whether it's unlimited or not. According to the Pew Research Center, about half of those who don’t take all their time off (52%) say they don’t feel they need to take more.

A similar share (49%) say they’d worry about falling behind at work if they took more time off. Some 43% of workers who don’t take all their PTO say they’d feel bad about their co-workers taking on additional work.

There seems to be a disconnect between employees and their employers. There's nothing inherently wrong with unlimited PTO, and there are a myriad of companies out there in which this policy works flawlessly. However, for this to be the case, there needs to be transparency. Employers are responsible for creating clear guidelines and addressing issues that come up with their employees, especially if they notice PTO isn't being used across the board. 

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Nia Tipton is a Chicago-based entertainment, news, and lifestyle writer whose work delves into modern-day issues and experiences.