One of the most controversial benefits in the United States is paid time off. Over the years, the structure and balance of paid time off have changed drastically, especially during the pandemic. We want to help you debunk why there is such a stigma around PTO and why many people are unsatisfied.
The American Worker
The American worker is known to be the most dedicated and loyal worker out there. They live to work because, after all, they are chasing after the American Dream. Don’t get me wrong, America is the place for opportunities and where many professionals grow and flourish, but the system is twisted.
Americans are overworked, working 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers. One of the most significant issues is that the system is designed for Americans to stay working and use minimal paid time off.
On average, full-time American employees get 11 days of paid time off after ten years of working and only 15.4 days of paid time off after 20 years of working. Across the pond in Europe, they are required to give 20 days of PTO, and in countries like Denmark, they require a minimum of 5 weeks of paid time off.
As you can see, the work-life balance in America is drastically different than others around the country. The coronavirus pandemic made this balance even worse. Once employees went remote, they were overworked even more because they no longer had to commute to work, it was with them at all times.
The Stigma of Unlimited PTO
To encourage more Americans to take more time off, policies like unlimited paid time off have become a trendy work benefit. Unlimited paid time off is the notion that employees can take off as often as they would like, as long as it is approved. Instead of having a set amount of 10 days to take off throughout the year, people now have the opportunity to take more time to themselves.
Most people would think that this policy is marvelous. But if you are working for the wrong company, it could be a nightmare. A stigma associated with unlimited paid time off is the inability to get approved time off from your company. If you work for a company that is not ethical towards its employees, they could refuse approval because there is no limitation to the benefit.
Another reason why some people think negatively of unlimited paid time off is the mental effect. If an employee works for a company with unlimited PTO but does not often encourage it, they are less likely to take that PTO because they are scared of using it. People become insecure and unsure when they should use their unlimited paid time off. When people become unsure, they wind up using fewer days of their unlimited paid time off than a set amount.
In order to have a thriving company culture with unlimited paid time off, the company culture should revolve around encouraging its use and having a set amount of days they have to use.
Overall, America is not a country that actively encourages its workers to take time outside of work. As a capitalist-driven society, they focus on the work, not the workers. Time is money, and taking time off isn’t in that equation. As workers, you should always use your paid time off and take advantage of it. Whether you have an emergency, vacation, or in need of a mental health day, always prioritize paid time off.