Microsoft is giving its salaried US employees unlimited time off

midian182

Posts: 8,463   +104
Staff member
In context: Working in the tech industry might not feel like the most secure profession right now, given the number of people being let go, but it still offers some of the best perks (and pay, usually). Microsoft, for example, is giving its US employees unlimited, fully paid time off.

Microsoft's chief people officer Kathleen Hogan announced the policy change in an email to company staff. All US salaried employees will receive unlimited time off, which Microsoft is calling Discretionary Time Off.

"How, when, and where we do our jobs has dramatically changed," Hogan wrote in the internal memo, seen by The Verge. "And as we've transformed, modernizing our vacation policy to a more flexible model was a natural next step."

In addition to the unlimited time off, Microsoft will offer employees ten corporate holidays, leaves of absence, sick and mental health time off, and time away for jury duty or bereavement. The new policy comes into effect on January 16. It will also apply to new employees, who will no longer have to accrue vacation time. Any employees who have an unused vacation balance will receive a one-time payout in April.

The bad news for Microsoft's hourly workers and those outside the US is that they won't be eligible for Discretionary Time Off. The company says this is due to federal/state wage and hour laws and other countries' different regulations and laws.

Microsoft also allows employees to work from home permanently, something the likes of Apple and Twitter have stopped, and gave a $1,500 pandemic bonus to employees.

Courtesy of Layoffs Tracker

Some other tech firms offer unlimited time off, including Salesforce, though the company is laying off 7,000 people, and its CEO isn't a fan of remote work—or new and younger employees, it seems.

For all the benefits of working in the industry, tech businesses have been laying off staff at a worrying pace over the last 12 months, and things aren't getting better; 29,686 tech employees across 27 companies were let go in the first week of January, 74% more than all the layoffs made during the whole of December. Even Microsoft made cuts in October (under 1,000) as it underwent "structural adjustments."

Permalink to story.

 

NeoMorpheus

Posts: 1,496   +3,219
My company offers the same thing, but last year, when I took 3 separate vacations totaling 4 weeks in a one year period, my manager said that I was taking too much time.

I reminded her that before the "unlimited" moniker was used, I already had 6 weeks per year due to the time I have been working at the company.

Havent heard a bit from her.
 

human7

Posts: 150   +129
Our company just implemented a similar policy. It remains to be seen if the culture will change at our company (that is, will there be pressure to take less time off than what was formally allotted beforehand).

Even if people take more time off, with all the layoffs going on, it makes financial sense for companies to offer this: unlike fixed paid time off policies, which typically have the company pay you for unused time off when you get laid off, they don't have to pay you for any days with flexible/discretionary/unlimited time off.
 

dangh

Posts: 838   +1,430
"Microsoft will offer employees ten corporate holidays, leaves of absence, sick and mental health time off, and time away for jury duty or bereavement. "
what does it men 'ten corporate holidays'? because it is not 10 days, right?
leaves of absence is rather normal stuff, same like sick and mental health time off. Isnt that a standard in US? You can't work sick surely. And jury duty is the citizen responsibility - this is something companies have to support explicitly?

Anyway I guess those are good changes, even, if in europe this is kind off baseline for employees.
 

Scrye74

Posts: 67   +110
My last company and my current offer the same. I have also worked for companies that had accrued PTO. Currently, since I don't feel the pressure to use up a set amount of PTO, I take much less time off. I am sure there are folks that abuse it but, for the most part, I think companies that do this see a net reduction is PTO.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 8,399   +7,817
My company offers the same thing, but last year, when I took 3 separate vacations totaling 4 weeks in a one year period, my manager said that I was taking too much time.

I reminded her that before the "unlimited" moniker was used, I already had 6 weeks per year due to the time I have been working at the company.

Havent heard a bit from her.
Many companies are offering "unlimited" time off these days. I've heard that what they don't tell you is that it needs to be approved, and is mostly a "marketing gimmick" designed to get you to work for their company, and thus it is almost entirely an empty promise. I'd say your experience more or less confirms that - at least for your company.

So while MS claims they are offering something special, I think it is more than likely that the "offer" has a relatively large amount of BS in it. Think about it, if there were any real substance to it, it would mean that you would never have to produce anything and you could spend your time entirely on vacation - all the time. How much BS is that?? :rolleyes:
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 8,399   +7,817
My last company and my current offer the same. I have also worked for companies that had accrued PTO. Currently, since I don't feel the pressure to use up a set amount of PTO, I take much less time off. I am sure there are folks that abuse it but, for the most part, I think companies that do this see a net reduction is PTO.
I think that's the point. To lull you into a sense of security about your vacation time so that employees end up taking less time off than they should.
 

waclark

Posts: 774   +485
"Microsoft will offer employees ten corporate holidays, leaves of absence, sick and mental health time off, and time away for jury duty or bereavement. "
what does it men 'ten corporate holidays'? because it is not 10 days, right?
leaves of absence is rather normal stuff, same like sick and mental health time off. Isnt that a standard in US? You can't work sick surely. And jury duty is the citizen responsibility - this is something companies have to support explicitly?

Anyway I guess those are good changes, even, if in europe this is kind off baseline for employees.
10 Corporate holidays are the paid days that MS will give you off. There are Federal and State holidays which may or may not be paid time off if you work at MS.

Most larger corporations have paid sick leave. Smaller business may not have this, though some states require it and it is funded via a state tax on the business.

A leave of absence is not typical, especially for smaller companies and even larger companies may not allow you to take a leave of absence during peak business times.

Generally jury duty is paid time off by law. There may be exceptions, though I am not aware of any.

Frankly, unlimited paid time off, is a gimmick if you ask me. You are not going to get 8 weeks off with pay on a consistent basis. I think this is meant to be more, a day off here or a day off there doesn't matter. Taking 3 months off to travel Europe is probably not the intention.
 

sorten

Posts: 181   +295
TechSpot Elite
Unlimited time off is commonplace in the tech industry, but it's not necessarily a perk. It means they're taking away PTO accrual, which is a liability on their balance sheet and has to be paid to departing employees.

I worked at a company that made this switch, and one employee had more than $20K in accrued PTO. Employees in that situation have to use that accrued PTO first before they get the "unlimited" bit. The only way to get paid for that remaining balance is to quit.
 

Buhaj

Posts: 148   +240
How is this going to work - people will be able to take as many days off as reasonably possible and will be paid for those?
 

NeoMorpheus

Posts: 1,496   +3,219
I've heard that what they don't tell you is that it needs to be approved, and is mostly a "marketing gimmick"
Its actually worse, specially for people that have strong employees protection, like California.

Example, in California, your PTO/vacation days carry over to the next year and never expire and if you leave the company, they have to pay you that time.

With this new scheme, you dont get sh!t.

Who knows what else you are now losing.

I am intend to use at least 6 weeks this year and see how it goes... :cool:
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 8,399   +7,817
Its actually worse, specially for people that have strong employees protection, like California.

Example, in California, your PTO/vacation days carry over to the next year and never expire and if you leave the company, they have to pay you that time.

With this new scheme, you dont get sh!t.
I think people will catch on and start complaining. Whether that means that things will change or not only time will tell. IMO, its a scam that has become legal and is a step backward for worker rights.
I am intend to use at least 6 weeks this year and see how it goes... :cool:
Go for it! (y) (Y)

As I see it, prospective employees for companies that have "unlimited vacation" policies should ask plenty of questions about that policy during their interviews. Perhaps, if employees refuse employment after asking such questions, employers will get the idea that their prospective employees are not buying their crap.

As I see it, the trouble is for everyone that would turn down an offer at such a company, there will be those who will be unable to see the ruse and take such a position anyway even though it is, IMO, essentially a scam.
 

waclark

Posts: 774   +485
I think people will catch on and start complaining. Whether that means that things will change or not only time will tell. IMO, its a scam that has become legal and is a step backward for worker rights.

Go for it! (y) (Y)

As I see it, prospective employees for companies that have "unlimited vacation" policies should ask plenty of questions about that policy during their interviews. Perhaps, if employees refuse employment after asking such questions, employers will get the idea that their prospective employees are not buying their crap.

As I see it, the trouble is for everyone that would turn down an offer at such a company, there will be those who will be unable to see the ruse and take such a position anyway even though it is, IMO, essentially a scam.
I can't wait to see someone who says, OK, I accept your offer of employment and I am immediately taking 6 months off using my unlimited PTO. Thanks for the checks!
 

NeoMorpheus

Posts: 1,496   +3,219
I can't wait to see someone who says, OK, I accept your offer of employment and I am immediately taking 6 months off using my unlimited PTO. Thanks for the checks!
Or saying, I will be taking off every Monday and Friday for the whole year.
 

BadThad

Posts: 1,272   +1,550
There's always a catch somewhere, no company is going to take the potential for abuse this sets up. Why bother offering holidays and sick time?
 

NeoMorpheus

Posts: 1,496   +3,219
Why bother offering holidays and sick time?
Because legally (in some places) you are entitled to get them in a check if you leave.

Mine removed sick and personal time and now all is summed into the "unlimited PTO".

We are screwed.