It’s Good That Unlimited Vacation Is Terrible

You will never take an unlimited vacation. Plenty of hip startups and business that wish they were hip are offering the perk now, and it looks great: You'll get as much time off as you want, as long as you get your work done. The problem: Has your work ever been over? Besides, that guy next to you might steal your promotion and hasn't taken a vacation day since last year.

Here's what to do about it.

Unlimited Vacation Is Terrible

The problem can be boiled down to one sentence. Wesley Walser, founder and CEO of Ask Inline, has done so in a recent Medium post: “Vacation time is restricted socially instead of by policy.” America's habit of overwork is keeping people in check, and those unused vacation days wind up majorly benefiting the company:

“Frankly, it’s surprising to me how many people underestimate the material value of unused vacation time. Not the value to themselves as humans, the material value. The value to the company; The red ink at the bottom of the balance sheet. Adopting an unlimited leave policy is a cost-cutting measure for a business. Cost cutting? Yes, they no longer have to pay out unused vacation when someone leaves the company. They no longer carry debt to every single employee who hasn’t taken this year’s two, three or four weeks of paid vacation.”

Which Is Useful During Negotiation

As Walser explains it, there's just one question to ask when a recruiter mentions their unlimited vacation policy: “What is the average number of vacation days taken by employees in the last twelve calendar months?”

You know someone's keeping track. If they don't share, you know that they won't be honest. But regardless of their answer, you're telling them that you're aware that the unlimited vacation days aren't as great as they try to sound.

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Written by:
Adam is a writer at and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He was a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and his art history book on 1970s sci-fi, 'Worlds Beyond Time,' is out from Abrams Books in July 2023. In the meantime, he's hunting down the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.
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