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Unlimited PTO: Pros and Cons That Every HR Specialist Should Know

Unlimited PTO: Pros and Cons That Every HR Specialist Should Know
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Having an unlimited PTO policy makes it possible for companies to improve retention and attract top talent from their respective industries. However, its implementation may not be easy. There are many drawbacks to offering unlimited PTO, making the policy susceptible to abuse if you’re not careful.

The HR policy encompassing paid time off may vary from one organization to another. Most companies strive to keep their PTO allowance at a bare minimum, increasing it gradually with an employee’s tenure.

However, considering the current trends and workforce dynamics, there are some companies that have started offering unlimited paid time off to their employees.

This is one of the most effective tactics to engage employees and boost their morale at the workplace, as employees have the freedom to take as much paid time off from work as they want compared to the limited number of days.

Nevertheless, there’s a flip side to everything, and an unlimited PTO policy is no exception.

So, if you’ve been thinking about implementing an unlimited PTO policy at work, here are a few pros and cons that you should consider before doing so.

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Understanding Unlimited PTO Policy

Before we explore the pros and cons of having an unlimited PTO policy, let’s first explore the concept briefly.

Unlimited PTO is a leave policy often considered by companies where employees are allowed to take as much free time from work as they want as long as they meet their deadlines and keep up with their to-do lists.

Now, does this mean that if an employee has achieved his targets for the quarter in two months, he can take the remaining days off? No. It’s not that simple. 

Keeping up with your deliverables doesn’t mean that you only have to complete the tasks that have been assigned to you. You may also be a collaborator on tasks assigned to others where your assistance is required to get the job done.

This means you have to be smart when planning to take paid time off. It’s essential that you schedule your leaves with careful consideration and inform others working alongside you on a project beforehand.

This way, you’d be able to keep the needle moving, and your absence wouldn’t affect the company’s workflows.

Plus, an unlimited PTO policy doesn’t completely liberate employees to be absent from work whenever they feel like it, as you technically request a PTO, and your request can either be approved or rejected by the supervisor.

To put it simply, an unlimited PTO policy removes the limit on employees' ability to take a certain number of leaves in a given year. And it’s currently perceived as the most valued benefit for employees.


Pros of Having an Unlimited PTO Policy

There are a number of benefits to having an unlimited PTO policy for your employees. Here are a few important ones worth considering:

Enhanced Productivity

Removing the cap on leaves for your employees helps maximize efficiency and significantly improves their productivity and well-being.

The employees know that they can take as many days off from work as they want, as long as they keep up with their deliverables. So, it’s a no-brainer that no one would want to miss out on an opportunity like this.

Therefore, it’s natural that they’d try their best to stay focused and make the most of their time at work.

They’d be less likely to succumb to distractions around them or take excessive breaks from work just to kill time because going on a holiday sounds so much better than a gossip session near the coffee machine.

Allowing employees to take a break from work whenever they feel like it greatly minimizes the likelihood of exhaustion, which in turn benefits the company. Employees who are less likely to feel burned out or stressed tend to be more productive, engaged, and loyal to the company.


Improved Coordination

Having an unlimited PTO policy can significantly improve coordination at work. In order to be eligible for paid time off, employees have to complete their tasks and make sure that their absence doesn’t impede the company’s workflow.

This greatly improves coordination among employees and promotes communication at work, as getting the work done becomes a priority for all. As a result, everyone is on the same page and knows what’s expected of them and their peers.


Having an unlimited PTO policy promotes transparency at the workplace and eliminates the possibility of employees making excuses to skip a day or two.

People generally call in sick when they don’t feel like going to work or need a day off for personal commitments.

However, with an unlimited leave policy, employees don’t have to lie to take a day off from work. They know that they can take as many days off as they want as long as they achieve the set goals. So, there’s no point in making excuses or being indirect when they need a break.

Higher Retention

Working for an employer offering unlimited paid time off is nothing less than a blessing, especially considering the current conditions of the job market.

With even the leading companies resorting to excessive layoffs, unlimited PTO is a sought-after perk that can help companies not only improve employee retention but also attract top-tier talent from their respective industries.

Better HR Function

An unlimited PTO policy significantly decreases the menial and repetitive work that a company’s HR department generally does to keep track of employee leaves and accruals.

The policy won’t completely exclude leave management from HR’s responsibilities, but it’d make the process a lot less tedious.

This helps improve the HR function and makes it possible for concerned stakeholders to focus on things that matter.

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Cons of Having an Unlimited PTO Policy

When implementing an unlimited PTO policy, it’s not ideal to only consider its benefits and ignore the drawbacks associated with it. Here are a few noteworthy disadvantages of having an unlimited paid time off policy:

Risk of Abuse

One of the major cons of implementing an unlimited PTO policy at work is the risk of its abuse by employees.

No matter how carefully you’ve crafted the terms and conditions, it’s highly likely for the employees to find a loophole and exploit the policy. 

The best you can do is educate employees about fair use and expect them to pay attention to the message you’re trying to convey.

Workload Disparity

Even in a company with an amazing culture, there will always be employees who are looking for an excuse to be absent from work. So, it’s natural for them to take excessive days off from work if a company chooses to deploy an unlimited PTO policy.

This may cause disparity when it comes to workload distribution, as the ones who are committed to their work may end up grappling with increased workload concerns due to the absence of their carefree co-workers.

Inability to Take Disciplinary Action

When a company has a cap on the paid time off for its employees, taking disciplinary action against people who’ve exceeded the limit is much easier.

The exact number of days an employee can request time off from work is mentioned in an appointment contract and clearly communicated at the time of onboarding.

However, things are not that simple when you have an unlimited PTO policy. Since there’s no contractual obligation when it comes to off days, it may be difficult for the company to take action against employees who abuse the policy.

Workplace Conflict

An unlimited PTO policy can cause some employees to develop resentment towards others, which may lead to critical workplace issues and affect the company's culture.

Some people tend to take more days off than others. And while they’re off to their favorite holiday destination for a vacation, someone else is filling their shoes and trying to get the work done.

This can give rise to workplace conflicts, which may severely affect employee performance and the company’s progress.

Unnecessary Delays

Having an unlimited PTO policy may cause unnecessary delays and make it challenging for employees to keep the needle moving.

No matter how careful employees are when it comes to planning their off days, their absence lowers the company’s operational capacity in one way or another and affects its overall progress.

As a result, the company may experience uncalled-for delays with respect to achieving the set milestones.

It’s a Wrap

The implementation of an unlimited paid time-off policy requires careful consideration by the company.

The policy certainly comes with a variety of benefits. It has the potential to boost employee satisfaction and elevate the company’s retention significantly.

However, it’d be simply unwise to ignore the drawbacks associated with it and their impact on the company’s performance.

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Author Bio:

Syed Balkhi is the founder of WPBeginner, the largest free WordPress resource site. With over 10 years of experience, he’s the leading WordPress expert in the industry. You can learn more about Syed and his portfolio of companies by following him on his social media networks.

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