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5 min read

What does unlimited paid time off mean?

Happy Adaptavist team members waving

All Adaptavist staff enjoy unlimited paid holiday and, since its roll-out in 2019, it's been a roaring success. Here is a list of some of the most common questions surrounding this dream benefit and how Adaptavist’s policy addresses these issues.

What is unlimited paid time off?

When Adaptavist says 'unlimited paid time off', we mean trusting a team member to take as much paid leave from work as they need to rejuvenate themselves and maintain their productivity. This benefit is available to all staff members from the day they start working with us. Our latest Digital Etiquette Report revealed that 47% of workers felt burnt out by their jobs; it's clear that companies need to give people more time off to recuperate and avoid exhaustion.

Is it really unlimited holiday?

Of course, our employees don't take the entire year off. We implemented this policy in 2019 because we trust our staff from the moment they start working with Adaptavist. Flexibility and maintaining a healthy work-life balance are central components of our culture. We're all adults, and we know our employees can do their job to a very high standard, so we also trust them not to abuse our policy. As long as they get their work done and there's enough cover on their team, they can make the most of our unlimited holiday policy. 

The only restriction we have is that you can't take more than two weeks off, unless there are exceptional circumstances. Across Adaptavist's entire workforce, the average number of days that staff take off in a year is 33. For maximum transparency, we let all staff members know this when they start working for us, so they don't have to hesitate when booking time off.

Is any leave paid out when you quit?

Unlike other companies that implement an unlimited PTO policy, we actually pay out all statutory leave that staff are legally entitled to when they resign. So if a staff member is entitled to 28 days, then leaves six months into the year, they would be entitled to 14 days off. If they had used up ten days, they would receive four days of pay in their final paycheque. However, if they use more than the number of pro-rata days they have accrued, they're expected to pay back these additional days.

What if staff feel pressured to keep working and take less time off than if they had a set number of days?

Although we don't mind how many days Adaptavist staff take off, we do care about the minimum number of annual leave days they use. We want to ensure that everyone benefits the most from this policy and have safeguards to help. At a minimum, all staff must take the legal amount of days off that their region entitles them to. If people aren't taking enough days off, their manager will gently remind them to do so. Taking the appropriate time off work is paramount for mental health, productivity, and avoiding burnout and stress. This will also relieve pressure from staff who may feel like they can't ask for the time off they need otherwise.

Winners standing on podium

What advantages to unlimited paid leave are there for the company?

Some employers baulk at the concept of unlimited paid annual leave, fearing it's open to abuse, and that staff won't do their work. This demonstrates a lack of trust in their workforce and is unhealthy for the organisation. With unlimited annual leave, we can focus on a team member's productivity, work, and results, not an arbitrary number of hours worked. With 70% of workers favouring companies with unlimited annual leave, we want to attract the best candidates we can, while also improving our staff retention rate. It's a win-win for employees and the company.

What if someone takes far too much time off?

There isn't a correct number of days that an employee should take off and we trust our employees to use their judgement. However, if someone is taking so many days off that they cannot fulfil their workload, or too many of their direct team members are also off, their manager reserves the right to deny the annual leave request. Adaptavist's culture is robust and if a request is refused, managers will always take the time to communicate why.

So really, paid time off is at the manager's discretion?

Like most companies without unlimited paid holiday, managers still need to approve the time off—you’d struggle to find a company where this isn’t the policy. The difference at Adaptavist is that we encourage our managers to allow as much paid time off as necessary to ensure their teams are productive, refreshed, and enjoying their work when they’re here. 

How should staff use unlimited paid time off?

It's entirely up to the individual! Adaptavist staff never have to justify their annual leave (although we’re always keen to know if it’s someone’s birthday!) People use it to travel, catch up with hobbies, see family and friends, attend courses, volunteer, or just do nothing and take some downtime for themselves. We hold no expectations or judgement on how annual leave is used.

Trust shield behind people

Why does unlimited paid time off fail in other companies?

There are many reasons why an unlimited PTO policy doesn't work for all companies. Most of these reasons are cultural. As paid time off can't be accrued, some companies don't pay out anything when a team member hands in their notice, so it's seen as a cost-saving measure. They suspect that staff will take off less time than if they had a defined number of days, meaning more hours worked for less money. We mitigate this by ensuring people take off their legal entitlement and payout these days if they leave without taking off the minimum. Letting staff know the average number of days taken off across Adaptavist when they start provides reassurance too.  

Some companies don't have a culture of trust. This can result in staff feeling like they can't take as much time off, for fear of annoying their teammates or managers. At Adaptavist, we emphasise that this benefit is available to everyone and there is a minimum number of days that they need to take. Managers will tell their team when they're not taking enough time off and encourage them to do so.

Unlimited PTO is another string to our bow of flexibility, trust, and a great work-life balance. Adaptavist's CEO Simon Haighton-Wiliams says: "It's long been a principle that we realise that everyone at Adaptavist is an adult, and we should treat each other as such. Our attitude to flexible working—trusting people to make their own judgements about how and when they work best— is a testament to this. The mature way people deal with this demonstrates the calibre of our people, and shows that treating people this way is correct.

We're already a company where people don't clock watch. This further underscores our trust in people to do the right thing, and our respect for the fact that people have lives beyond Adaptavist."

Interested in enjoying unlimited paid time off? Check out our job vacancies now.