Occupation Spotlight

Unlimited Vacation: A Rare but Quickly Growing Job Benefit

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Since May 2015, the share of job postings offering the benefit has nearly tripled on Indeed.

Key points:

  • The share of job postings advertising unlimited vacation is rising fast, from about 450 postings per million in May 2015 to nearly 1,300 postings per million in May 2019, up 178%.
  • Nonetheless, unlimited vacation is a rare benefit. Only 0.13% of job postings, or just more than one in 1,000, had terms like “open PTO” or “unlimited vacation” in the job description.
  • Tech occupations such as software engineer and data scientist are around six to eight times more likely than other jobs to offer unlimited vacation.

Job seekers and employers increasingly are considering a once-unthinkable benefit: unlimited vacation. It’s a job perk received by thousands of US workers. And it’s not without some controversy. While many employers argue that it leads to higher productivity and morale, if workers can’t accrue unused vacation time, employers aren’t obliged to pay it out.

New Indeed research reveals that unlimited vacation is a rare benefit, but it’s increasingly appearing in job advertisements. Postings for tech occupations, such as software engineer or data scientist, are much more likely to include it, though the benefit is being seen more often in non-tech roles.

It’s still exceptional for a job to advertise “open PTO” or “unlimited vacation.” Nonetheless, since May 2015, the share of job postings offering the benefit has nearly tripled. Tens of millions of Indeed job descriptions were queried for one of the terms used to identify this perk (see the methodology section for more details). Only about 0.13% of job postings, or just more than one in 1,000, included terms such as “open PTO” or “unlimited vacation.” But job postings offering the benefit jumped from about 450 per million in May 2015 to nearly 1,300 per million in May 2019, a 178% gain.

Tech jobs are around six to eight times more likely to offer unlimited vacation than all job postings. In May 2019, more than 8,500 tech job postings per million mentioned “open PTO” or a similar keyword, up from around 3,000 postings per million in May 2015. Still, even among tech jobs, only 0.9% of postings cite unlimited vacation as a benefit.

While the growth rate is slightly higher in tech, the overall trajectories of postings offering this benefit are relatively similar for both tech jobs and all jobs.

While unlimited vacation is a growing benefit for tech jobs, it’s increasing in other sectors too. Because tech represents only a small fraction of all jobs, the rise of unlimited vacation opportunities in other areas means that the share of non-tech postings offering this benefit is growing. In May 2015, the non-tech share of “unlimited vacation” job postings was 61%, but by May 2019 it had risen to 65%.

If current trends continue, jobs advertising “unlimited vacation” will become a little less unusual. But don’t count on it becoming common anytime soon. And offers of “open PTO” are likely to continue to be more frequent for software engineers, data scientists, and other tech occupations.

Methodology

US job descriptions were queried for one or more of these terms: “unlimited paid time off,” “unlimited PTO,” “open paid time off,” “open PTO, “unlimited vacation,” or “open vacation.”

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