- Microsoft began implementing unlimited paid time off for salaried employees in the U.S. on Monday, a company spokesperson confirmed in an email to HR Dive.
- According to an internal memo obtained by The Verge, Microsoft will still offer 10 corporate holidays alongside the unlimited PTO — termed “Discretionary Time Off,” or DTO — as well as leaves of absence; sick and mental health time off; jury duty time off; and bereavement leave. Employees with unused vacation balances from the company’s previous framework will receive a payout in April 2023, The Verge reported.
- “How, when, and where employees do their jobs has dramatically changed and DTO aligns with more flexible ways of working,” the spokesperson said.
The tech giant continues to experiment with HR policy changes after nearly three years of pandemic-driven shifts, with notable examples including the adoption of permanent hybrid work for some positions.
In previous external communications, Microsoft has emphasized the role that manager-employee alignment plays in setting norms around flexibility.
“Our approach to hybrid embraces schedule flexibility as standard for most roles and provides employees with the opportunity to determine how and where they work best, while making sure an individual’s plans align to the team agreements set with their manager,” Chris Capossela, Microsoft executive VP and chief marketing officer, said in a February 2022 blog post.
Unlimited PTO may be easier to administer than other systems that involve tracking time off, and it also could help organizations address the need to provide employees with the time they need for life outside of work.
But very few employers offer this benefit, according to the Society for Human Resource Management 2022 Employee Benefits Survey, which found that only 6% did so. That may be because unlimited PTO can create its own share of administrative issues when interacting with other leaves. It also may be difficult for employees to balance unlimited leave or vacation with their job responsibilities, giving way to burnout.
In a 2021 op-ed for HR Dive, Suzy Walther, former chief people officer at Carta, wrote that unlimited PTO may fail to actually encourage workers to take time off. Walther instead argued in favor of policies that stipulate a required minimum amount of time off in addition to an unlimited PTO policy.
Unused PTO continues to be a problem for employers in any case; a July survey by PTO solutions provider Sorbet found that 55% of PTO went unused in 2022, compared to 28% in 2019. Employers may need to ensure that executives and supervisors lead by example when it comes to taking time off to ensure that employees receive signals that it is okay to do the same.