So it turns out people were taking much more time off now than when PTO was unlimited. They started denying request and making up trivial rules, like 2/3 of your team must be available at any time (regardless of the team size), oh, and those rules weren't in the official policy. Good luck trying to get specifics in writing.
Eventually they changed back to an unlimited policy but secretly told managers they should start denying requests after x number of days have been used. I think it was five weeks, which again is still generous but it bothers me because the intent is to hide that number in hopes that people will use less. I also get no tracking for how many days I've already taken unless I go through my requests and count the approved ones myself.
The unlimited policy is definitely a scam at many companies. Most of my team has been denied requests for reasons that don't exist in the written policy, like, "you recently had PTO already." Honestly I'd rather have a policy that only allowed 3 or 4 weeks with a minimum mandatory that each employee is required to take at least two weeks off per year.
When I worked at Uber engineering which had unlimited PTO, I took between 6-8 weeks of PTO every year. Most years was at least 6, but one year I took 8. No one batted an eye. I think it all depends on company culture or maybe team culture.
I would never work for a company that denied me a PTO day, even if it was a single day. I would never irresponsibly take PTO but I would also make sure that I took at least 4 weeks off per year no matter what. The secret is taking 1 week off per quarter, and then another 2 weeks off during Christmas. That automatically brings you up to 6 weeks.
But make no mistake, unlimited vacation is a way to keep PTO off the books as a liability. In California you cannot lose PTO that you have accrued. They can stop accrual however once you reach a certain level. Once you max out on accrual, you are giving the company money, which is stupid so it's important to consistently take PTO.
If you get 5 weeks PTO and never take any then leave after 2 years, I assume it gets paid out?
If your contract is for unlimited PTO and you never take any and leave after 2 years, what do you get?
Edit: Thanks. Yikes. Unlimited PTO actually seems worse than a specified allowance from where I sit.
What they do is say "It's unlimited, but if you take more than 4 weeks it has to be approved" or something and then that way they can cap you like they did before but also not pay you out if you leave because wink wink it's "unlimited".
I do remember seeing the plans that said unlimited (tiny print slow after 30Gb) and that's misleading... better to put the 30gb in big letters, but I just want like 1 or 2 gb fast... Just switched to a hard capped plan cause it was half the price though and a higher cap and I haven't hit the cap in a long time.
I don't want to pay for unlimited data, and I don't want to lose data after hitting a cap.
Maybe the plans you're describing could spin the feature as "throttled for your pleasure" or some such. I'm sure there are marketing people that can come up with a positive way to spin it that isn't a borderline falsehood.
Bandwidth is the same, if you set a speed limit, you are also setting a distance limit.
I am pretty sure even today if you have a phone call on Google voice that goes over two hours or so, your call will drop. I like it better this way because I can call back immediately after being disconnected.
If there are specific policies that demarcate how an employee uses PTO to the degree specified in this blog post, I would argue that the firm does not have "unlimited PTO" and in fact accrues a vacation balance.
Awaiting the class action in CA.
I think companies do things like Unlimited PTO because although it may mean some people take more leave than before, other people take the same or less and there's no liability, so it may net out roughly the same but sounds better to new hires.
I don't think every company is extremely cynical as you're suggesting. As others here have mentioned, it depends where you work - we don't bat an eyelid if people are using 4-6 weeks plus holidays, in fact we check to make sure people are actually using their PTO.
All the former employee would have to do is to illustrate that the 4 weeks was enshrined in policy somehow, then boom.
Some stats do and that is where this could be ducking worker rights.
These are all just the slow crawl of American businesses towards irrelevance.
Even in this case, it depends where you live and sometimes what your contract says. California requires it, but most states don't.
In all the "unlimited PTO" jobs I've had, nothing.
I don't understand why you're mad at someone for using a benefit he's entitled to?
Unlimited PTO means you should never have to work if you don't want to. Otherwise it's not unlimited.
If there's a limit just state it upfront.
One of my co-workers a few years ago decided to go to Japan for 3 months, but that didn't fly with my company and it ended up being mostly an unpaid sabbatical (despite the unlimited PTO policy). 3 months later, the guy extended his stay and let us know he wasn't coming back. There were no hard rules anywhere in sight, but the way this played out seems perfectly reasonable to me.
Saying that you have unlimited paid leave when that is obviously untrue and leaves the policy open for abuse by both employee and employer. I'm sure the example stating that less leave was taken when it was "unlimited" was because people understood that there were limits but didn't know what the limit was and didn't want to trigger management. Once things are defined, of course people will think that it's ok to take the maximum leave allowed.
I think the guy who quit after two months' leave knew perfectly well it was abuse; he just didn't care. Or maybe he felt slighted by the company in some way (unfair resolution of a conflict, promotion denied, underpaid, whatever) and this was his way of getting even with them.
That means the team was down an engineer for basically an entire quarter, without notice. That wrecks schedules and causes headaches for your coworkers who now have to figure out how to make up for the lost time or figure out what work to cut from the schedule.
2 months is clearly abuse, but I'm worried my CEO or HR will have a far less generous definition of abuse. I'm already reading a thread about 4-6 week vacations where I get at most 2 weeks.
It's absolutely not grown-up behavior to remove terms from an explicit business contract (employment agreement) and move them to an implicit, unwritten "I know it when I see it" social contract.
Obviously there's some actual limit that your platonic grownup has in mind, between 2 weeks and 40 weeks of PTO per year. Just write it down.
Holidays should come with some limits, eg. no more than X weeks per year, like it was in the past.
I get it, the government made a stupid rule (forcing PTO accrual in the contract between employer and employee) and companies were creative enough to find a solution to bypass that rule and made it sound attractive on a job ad.
In an ideal world we would just have an explicit upfront amount and no government interference.
Being paid out leave, and having leave accrued isn't a stupid rule. It's a law that's made in reaction to companies writing an upfront amount of leave into contracts, and never allowing their employees to take that leave.
When you side with no regulation, you side with abusive employers, not for "common sense winning out". People will abuse you as much as they're legally allowed to.
If this were true, none of us would be earning more than the minimum wage.
>...In a world without "government interference" you wouldn't have leave, you'd work every day of the week, and you'd work 12+ hours a day.
The claim is that without a government rule specifying otherwise, we would be working every day of week for almost all of our working hours. The government does mandate a minimum wage - if the original point was true, we would all be paid at the minimum wage. Your "1 in 5" percentage seems high, but as you point out, most people are paid more than the minimum wage.
That's anchoring bias. Unlimited does have some nice properties (e.g. very generous allowances in many cases, and the possibility of spending unaccrued time, for example)
If we're in talking about ideals, I'd just ask for people to be more transparent about what the actual dynamics are: if taking 2 months vacation where everyone else takes 1 week affects metrics tied to promos, then say that upfront so people can make a conscious decision about whether signing up for asshat culture is worth the brand prestige or career trajectory potential or whatever it is that people value.
So the reason for being mad is the company and team culture. The first company had a clear unspoken culture that actually using the benefit was off limits.
Depends on your mental model, some would say the company should be staffed to account for x% on leave, thou account for a person taking 2 months is likely out of reach for smaller companies
Early in my career I never took a vacation, so I maxed out. I realized that I'd be losing money by being maxed out, so I worked out a deal with my boss to take every Friday off from May to September that year. Four day work weeks all summer was pretty nice!
What that meant at my first real job was that even though I would have liked to take time off during the year, I liked the idea of having time off saved up better.
Since we couldn't carry days over, that meant that around the middle of November I told the team, happy holidays, see you all next year.
On January second, my boss told me he would never let me do that again. Which was sort of my first clue that employment conditions could be negotiated on a one by one basis.
However, innovation is sometimes stifled because care providers being compared to assembly-line workers is taboo.
Don't falsely advertise to lure people! Be clear about your vacation policy.
It wasn't a bluff. Unlimited PTO has never meant taking months off at a time.
I've never met an adult that needed clarification on what unlimited PTO means. Nonsense like this just ruins it for everyone else.
Hard to say if it was actually unfair or not given the lack of background details (e.g. were they only there for a couple of months working the minimum needed or where they there for 2 years working heavily) but nothing about what was said so far actually seems unfair. "unlimited pto" should be about flexibility not about trying to silently lower the amount of PTO people take.
My current place now is much smaller and has unlimited PTO. I just act like it is no rollover front loaded and arranged my major blocks throughout the year up front. Throughout the year I'll make additional minor requests for unplanned things. Unfortunately many others don't do this and even though nobody is ever denied very few come close to using how much I get approved on Jan 1 and they'll just leave without it.
Isn't that exactly what it's supposed to be? To give people an ability to work whenever they feel like working. It's not like the company just wanted to give people few more days of vacation like everyone else. They wanted to "stand out" with unlimited amount.
Not to mention that 2 months vacation is something that can easily happen even under normal circumstances (at least in Europe). If someone gave me "unlimited" amount of vacation I would certainly use more than that.
I’m not trying to justify a 2 month paid vacation, but this kind of clarification is all up to who’s doing the interpreting. The 60 hour week boss who never takes vacations may think anything beyond National holidays is excessive.
If I want to travel to Brazil I’m not going to spend 38 hours round trip to go for just a week.
I for one won't take an offer that includes "unlimited" PTO because it's a lie, and it means I can't compare the offer to my current job, and an employer offering it has a good chance of being underhanded. If they're not, they should be willing to put a specific number in my contract.
That's absolutely common practice in places where you can accrue PTO without limits. People rest with compensation they earned and then leave re-energized. And that's a good thing.
Both programs got dramatically reformed after that, though naturally retrospective profiles of the program give it a much shinier glow.
Also known as "that's why we can't have good things"... :/
Just saying it could be even more nefarious than you intended to convey :)
In other words, we tried to scam him on "unlimited" vacation which isn't, but he scammed us back by taking us at our word and treating it as if we weren't actually lying. Indeed, what a jerk.
The CEO made a dumb bet and lost. You can't be mad when you offer unlimited PTO and people use it.
This is such a dumb take. Unlimited PTO does not mean you take two months off.
I'm tired of everything needing a footnote and qualifications because people like you only understand things in the most superficial sense.
Sure. Leave of two months should obviously be coordinated with your leadership, which this person didn't do.
Which makes your comment moot.
How do you know that individual wasn't approved for the 2 months? I missed that part of the story. Do you not believe an employee has the right to resign from a job, or are they a slave for a certain period of time after taking a vacation?
Context clues: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Context_(language_use)
> Do you not believe an employee has the right to resign from a job
Of course. Nobody said any different. Are you confused about the thread you're responding to?
Need a few days off for a break? Go for it. Want to take a two week vacation a few times per year. Approved!
Think you can take two months off and disappear? Nope. Some people were born without a nuance gene and don't understand this distinction.
Apparently you can, because he did, and it worked.
I've done something similar, walking off a bad job at the most critical time they needed me. Would you like to know what happened? I used one of my many other references, and within two weeks I had a job for 20% more money making six figures. Your value isn't attached to what some idiot CEO thinks of you.
Congrats I guess.
It's difficult to get that "hard reset" you need every once in a while with a 1-2 week vacation [which to be fair, is already fairly privileged], and even if you have 4-5 weeks / year ["generous by US standards"] it can be hard to take more than a couple of weeks at once because you need to save a week or so for Christmas, a few days for your anniversary, a couple of days for you or your spouse's birthday, three days to close out Thanksgiving, etc etc.
Sucks not to be German. 6 weeks a year that gets used is pretty humane.
Listen, PTO is money is salary.
Not taking PTO is leaving money on the table, it's the same as being proud that you're not receiving your full salary for your work, or being grateful that your company actually paid the agreed-upon salary this month.
But some people don't make that connection, because they're conditioned by shitty labour rules in the US.
Bank holidays (different depending on the federal state you're in but minimum is 9 - in Hesse) are on top of that.
To be fair 30 days PTO is simply the standard in tech jobs. Minimum by law is 21, which some other industries do stick to.
Since bank holidays can be included many places have stuck to 25 + bank holidays, though.
Sick/Personal leave is min 10 days/year and also accrues with no cap but is not paid out if you leave. In addition there are myriad of unpaid leaves for causes like bereavement, natural disasters, domestic violence etc.
(For those unfamiliar with LSL, I could take 3 months full pay if I wanted but half pay for double the time is my choice.)
Also note in some states where it's after 10 years you actually start accruing the leave after 7 years and if you leave the company prior to 10 years you get paid out for the amount of long service leave you have accrued. Again from the article at 5 to 10 years tenure is around 18%
Even with low participation it would be political suicide to make long service leave harder to gain or even try to take it away. Probably why Victoria actually made long service leave kick in after only 7 years.
It all depends upon what your priorities are. Mine are working to live, with a minimum of ratrace.
The result was that, lazy/low-performing people would take the most PTO while high performing more dedicated people would sometimes NOT take 1 day in a year (I had to remind/push them to take PTO at the end of the year for their own sainity!!).
Personally, I prefer companies that tell me "25 days of PTO" or 20 or 30 or whatever. That way you everyone including the managers know that every employee WILL be out of the office that time, and it becomes a RIGHT of the employee instead of a charity of the manager.
Ultimately, in these two startups changed from "unlimited" to something between 2 and 4 weeks of PTO per person.
I bill by the day or by the hour. Client's choice. I even round down to the nearest even hour each day so I don't ever have to have that icky feeling of "did I really bill them right this week?" which would just distract me.
When I work 14 hours in a row, that's what I bill. If I'm in the zone I push it till I fall over. It's worth it for the client. If I'm having an off day, I go home early and bill 4 or 6 hours.
If I'm billing by the day, I just bill by the day. Whether it's 14 hours of working or 4, it evens out and if I'm unsure, I'll bill half a day. The important part is that the work gets done. And if I work a Saturday, you bet it's billed.
Now, why do I say all of this? Because when it comes to time off I vastly prefer my situation. Sick for months? I'm not worrying about whether my PTO qualifies or whatever. I just don't get paid. This has happened recently and when I was healthy again my clients were happy I was able to help again.
This weird sorta dance around time off (sick days, PTO, government holidays, dealing with a manager under pressure for the quarter, etc) makes a bit of sense for the working poor, but I don't understand why so many software developers bother. Just bill what you work and if you want a day, week, or month off take it. I'm sure if more developers asked to work this way large corps would be happy to accommodate them.
Oh, yes the penny pincers in accounting will just love the fact that their budget calculations for the next year will entirely consist of statements like "whatever our 1000 code monkeys feel like working even if it exceeds the amount you are willing to pay if they get into 'the zone', best case you wont have to pay them at all because none showed up".
I don't do much dynamic hours like above as I work with/manage others but I do take 40ish days off a year. 2 weeks at Christmas and Easter, 3 in the summer, and 3-5 days off for some of the kids half term holidays.
I prefer just informing the clients when I am unavailable and that is it. Never had an issue since going solo 9 years ago.
There are many downsides to being a contractor, but time off is an upside, if you can afford it.
How is that different from quitting or taking an unpaid sabbatical and hoping the job still exists? I mean, your clients may have found a new contractor in those months.
The problem is without other changes you likely incentivize people to take "PTO" but still work.
Coworker: I'll be out of office for my friend's wedding next week, but I'll check in sometimes to make sure everything's OK.
Me: Oh no you won't! Go have fun and stay away. We'll be fine for a few days.
Chalk it up to enlightened self interest if you want. When it's my turn to be on vacation, I don't want to feel obligated to check in. Therefore, I don't let the people who report to me do it, either.
I've always liked the "treat people like adults" policy with unlimited PTO and no formal tracking. If someone can't manage PTO and is abusive of it, my guess is they either might not be a great hire anyway, and if they are, what are you accomplishing by bothering them?
Then when asked to take PTO you asked for money instead of holiday, despite working nights and weekends?
Although the point of documenting PTO is both useful for you (to quantify days off as you may be taking much less than you thought!) and the company (was behead meant to be in work today?! What if there's a fire alarm and headcount is needed?)
Congrats on the promotion and raises! I agree that ideally working hard should lead to those outcomes.
However I'm with you... I'd never work somewhere again (circumstances permitting) that did not offer me the flexibility I need to perform well. Sometimes that means I take a Monday and do nothing because I'm not recharged and my brain isn't being productive. Sure I could try to force something out, but honestly that doesn't benefit me or the company. My output would be poorly thought through, and I'll grow resentful. The tradeoff is, when I'm in the zone on something, it tends to consume me a bit and I'll gladly work until I'm done with it, nights or weekends be damned, because it's interesting.
Knowledge work is not a "show up and punch the clock" gig. Brains have off days and inconsistent output. When the quality of the thinking matters, and impactful output scales way beyond the cost of the individual employee, it pays for employers to be flexible.
What companies doesn't like though is when you put restrictions on it.
What I've seen as a middle ground is to have unlimited PTO but if you take more than 3 consecutive weeks off, it must convert to a leave of absence.
Thats why most of the companies in Bay Area have unlimited PTO to bypass this law.
> Q. My employer's vacation policy provides that once an employee earns 200 hours of vacation, no more vacation may be earned (accrued) until the vacation balance falls below that level. Is this legal?
> A. Yes, [and a bunch of examples]
They're only required to cash out your vacation at the end of your employment, and rolling over vacation isn't really a thing because you accrue it incrementally with each paycheck. See "Q. How is vacation earned?" in that link for more info.
The best places I've worked have had PTO policies, no rollover (but flexibility for longer trips), and (critically) managers who would gripe at you at the end of the year if you didn't use your PTO.
Expectations were clear, everyone was on an equal playing field, and PTO was sized to something the company could afford everyone making use of.
I am ambivalent on this. Some benefits are a bit like insurance, I don't mind not using them fully but I am glad its available when I need it.
The big issue is that it has to be available when I need it and it can't just be a scam.
"Unlimited PTO" just sounds like make believe land.
And if it's not an actual, usable, guaranteed policy that doesn't negatively impact your career... then why are we deluding ourselves and creating a policy vs culture mismatch?
Years ago, when I was first married (like several months after getting married), my husband needed surgery. The surgeon thought it might be pancreatic cancer.
The board gave me all the time I needed, no questions. And, the day of the surgery, a colleague from work spent the day at the hospital with me. A free day from the board and director.
Now it's true that I worked every day husband was in the hospital - I mean, he was sleeping most of the time so why not work? But they knew I would work since that's what I did. I delivered for years.
I was incredibly grateful they allowed me to take the time. Am still grateful. But I was also in a position where I could take an unpaid leave or quit. Neither optimal, but family comes first.
Would the organization have done the same for other staff? I don't think so. I had been there the longest and busted my ass for them, loving the work every single day.
Had saved enough that finances permitted, and I still feel great about the decision.
It's certainly a tricky thing to sort out, though. As you noted, "abuse" is possible, but defining what constitutes abuse is nearly impossible.
I'm sort of the same. I never had unlimited PTO, but I tend to save my time off for cases where I actually need it. Saved my bacon a bunch of times, before I started working remotely, with teams/companies that don't mind me taking off half a day to run some important errands, as long as my total work hours add up to the correct number each month.
When I was younger and working more junior roles and moving from role to role every year or 2 (generally headhunted) there was a use it or loose it mentality. You wouldn’t take the day off the moment you had a sniffle / didn’t feel 100%.
However once your older, have kids and are at the role for more then a few years, that sick leave is often “banked” for when the kids come down with whatever is going around the schoolyard this week
Once I joined, I was told flexi-time means you can come anytime before 9 am and leave anytime after 6 pm.
In Germany, your idea is the law. You get at least 5 weeks of vacation per year and you have to take at least 2 continous weeks off.
and work rules are always in favor of the employee so it can be extended but never reduced in a contract.
> Kann der Urlaub aus diesen Gründen nicht zusammenhängend gewährt werden, und hat der Arbeitnehmer Anspruch auf Urlaub von mehr als zwölf Werktagen, so muß einer der Urlaubsteile mindestens zwölf aufeinanderfolgende Werktage umfassen.
I was really surprised when I first learned from my manager that it's a two-way law (right and obligation). But then again it is really a pro-employee law, basically forcing you to rest from your work.
His director was furious that he took the paternity leave. He started getting bad reviews and was sandbagged when he tried to switch departments. After he left the bigco, another director told him why he got the treatment he did.
When I work with unlimited PTO firms I will just make my intention clear from the start which is to take 4 weeks. Plus the two weeks of sick leave I am entitled to if I get sick. So max I use 6 weeks. But my sick leave accrues. LIke when I left a company I had 6 weeks of sick leave left unused and not paid, which is fine.
In my industry/level 4-5 weeks PTO is pretty standard, with maybe 1 week allowed to carryover to say Q1 or maybe Q2 of following year. I almost certainly take slightly less average PTO now with "unlimited" than when I simply had that 4-5 week allotment.
With a fixed allotment it is an entitlement you feel free to use. With unlimited managers get into psychological games of trying to shame you out of taking it. Even if you are strong and don't give in, many of your team isn't. A lot of studies have shown "unlimited PTO" is actually used less than the standard allotment for the industry/level studied. I certainly have to wrangle almost every request. Very few people take 2 solid weeks consecutive either.
Is that surprising? I've had 'unlimited' (there must be a better way of saying that: obviously it has 'fair usage') for a couple of years, not counting but I'm pretty sure I've taken less than statutory.
Previous place was seven days over statutory and up to five would roll; fewer than statutory requirement taken would be paid in lieu (by law), obviously I took enough to use it all or roll some over - why let a couple of days go to waste? But when there's just no numbers on anything... if I don't have something to do I don't take it. (That's probably unrelatable for anyone with children, or a spouse who is taking holiday, that makes sense and I'm not knocking it!)
Perhaps I should have actually 'decided' and written something down if only for myself!
With pretty much everyone in my team complaining that we preferred an explicit limit than a nebulous non-explicit managerial capriciousness.
The hardest working most dedicated people will get punished by an unlimited PTO policy.
As an employer I offer 20 days/year base +1 day for each year of service. Our official policy is to only allow 10 days to roll over to encourage people to take vacation. We monitor people's vacation and work with them to schedule time off.
The hardest working most dedicated people dont realize they need time off so we make them take the time off.
And employees don't like accrual cap policies (i.e. stop earning after you hit some figure) that don't let them bank some amount over their annual accrual.
My last job switch, 6 month ago, I explicitly asked to apply that calculation on my shinny new yearly salary.
To go from 2 weeks off to say.. 5. ( I really means 6 … )
I got 2.5 and a lesson on budgeted HR cost and resource availability.
At least there was a response.
The funnier is : I had to care for a family member too.
I took 3 weeks already and they just routinely approved the unpay part of it.
It is so they don't have to pay you for your unused vacation when you leave. It's a financial trick.
Just have 4 weeks a year of rolling annual leave and be done with it! These absurd extremes serve nobody.
In larger companies that’s obviously never the case for any individual person.
Of course, that’s not quite how people use it, but the law as written is very nice.
It wears on the soul to carry the necessary cynicism of modern life with us.
Funny, they might as well suggest that you don't have to take entire salary you agreed on.
A (young, vaccinated) colleague caught COVID and was out for weeks, with multiple urgent care and one ER visit (quickly discharged; urgent care thought he might have had a stroke).
As far as I can tell he’s had no problems with the company after providing the medical evidence that he was, in fact, sick during that time.
OP’s story sounds terrible and the company completely toxic. I don’t defend it at all. However, in the US, nationally taking time off to care to others is not what paid sick leave is typically intended for. (In Washington State, where I live, the Family Care Act allows employees to use any form of paid leave provided by their employer to care for sick family ; I don’t know how many states have passed a similar laws.)
Taking leave to care for a sick family member is typically a different kind of leave. In the US, the Family and Medical Leave Act (known as FMLA) entitles eligible employees to 3 months per year to, among other things, care for a seriously ill spouse, or treat a serious illness of their own. FMLA leave is completely unpaid but your job is protected during and after that time, and there’s insurance you can buy to maintain your income when on FMLA.
It is illegal for an employer to deny a request for FMLA if you are eligible for it, or to retaliate for taking it . If you are eligible for FMLA and request it or are retaliated against by termination, that sounds like a lawsuit that would be easy to win, as well as getting the company in trouble with the Department of Labor.
But who would want to work at a company with such toxic behavior from management and HR? I’m glad this was exposed, assuming that it’s true. (You never know who is lying and has a hidden agenda or axe to grind that they are not disclosing.)
Good companies offer paid leave for the same activities that FMLA requires unpaid leave, such as Amazon’s 6 months of paid leave for birth mothers and 3 for other new parents. My current employer is offering 30 days of paid leave for taking care of family members who have serious illnesses like COVID and I’m confident based on what I’ve seen so far that they’ll honor it.
There’s no “unlimited vacation” at Facebook or Amazon and I’m glad for that. My management chains at both companies have always encouraged taking vacation, and set an example by doing it themselves. Facebook even allows you to have a negative vacation balance, and I haven’t seen people need permission for taking their vacation at either company, though it would probably be wise to do so if you were playing an important role in a vital company activity that would be happening during your vacation (such as the launch of a major product you worked on, or periodic performance reviews if you’re a manager or have an important role in them). I typically entered my vacation into the system after taking it at Amazon, and would let my manager/peers know only if I was planning to be gone and unreachable for an extended period. (At Facebook there’s a good system for notifying people who want to/need to know when you will be out of the office, which also sets up the equivalent of out of office emails for their predominant form of internal communication, which is via Workplace.com (basically Facebook for Work, and an overall excellent product that I would recommend ); so at FB I’d enter it in advance because of those integrations, but unless I was performing a crucial job function at a crucial time, I wouldn’t expect to need to ask for permission, so much as notify my manager of my plans.
During performance or promotion review committees for employees I’ve participated in, we always tried to adjust fairly for accomplishments per day of work vs. expectations and others, to avoid penalizing people who take full vacation or leave. It’s human nature to want to give a better performance rating to someone who worked hard for a year with minimal vacation, vs. someone who was on leave for half the year and also took vacation, thus having fewer accomplishments total; but the performance committees I’ve seen and participated in always tried to be fair and measure performance adjusted for time worked, and if anything erred toward being generous toward those who had been on long leaves.
> I'd rather have a policy that only allowed 3 or 4 weeks with a minimum mandatory that each employee is required to take at least two weeks off per year.
As a person who was once young, very ambitious, and had no responsibilities or dependents, I would be opposed to requiring that people take so much vacation. When I entered the industry, I wanted to work hard, build things, build a reputation, progress in my career, learn new things, and earn achievements (including one that got me an award and handshake from Jeff Bezos, back when he was CEO at Amazon); I didn’t want to or need to take vacation, and would have preferred higher pay instead. College was largely a 4 year vacation already, except for a few very challenging 400 level CS courses, and during which I had taken several real international vacations with my family. After graduation I was ready to work hard and build my career. The company provided holidays plus an extra day or two were sufficient for me.
What I do wish is that companies were required to pay employees for any paid time off that is offered but not used, as they are required to do when you leave the company, but ironically not if you stay. (By not used I mean such as due to maximum vacation balances or yearly vacation balance resets, as Amazon used to do). Any vacation that would otherwise accrue as vacation balance but doesn’t, due to maximums, should be obliged to be paid as a proportional amount of compensation to the employee; the same if a vacation balance is reset.
I am older now and have responsibilities for people besides myself, and I am aware of the risk of working too hard and burning yourself out, which is why I am glad to have always worked in environments where taking vacation has been encouraged. But for people with few responsibilities that love their job and want to progress in their career as fast as they are able, I do not think those people would be happy with vacation being forced on them. I wouldn’t have been. I do wish that employers were required to compensate employees for any PTO that is offered but not used though. I can understand why some people would not want the law to require this, since it might encourage people to overwork themselves - but we are all adults and some people may be in a situation where they need more money more than they need vacation time; it should be their choice in my opinion.
 I don’t know if it has the same degree of integration via bots that Slack has, however, so if that’s important to your workflow then you may want to scrutinize this aspect when evaluating the product; but the capability for them exists and is used extensively internally.
I always make sure I end the year with a zero PTO balance (no rollover) and I make sure that I encourage my employees to do the same.
You don’t think this is a reasonable rule??
My company has/had (the people I know with it left) this problem. Things hinged on one person and a team of effectively 1 or even 2 can never go on vacation.
Now, obviously this should be considered a problem too but other problems can make the 2/3 part unworkable.
To everyone else, If this happens to you, I implore you to get legal counsel ASAP, and keep it quiet. Find out all your options and strike a quiet deal with your employer. That is the best you'll ever get.
Almost any large company has much deeper pockets than you do and their reputation is more valuable that their ethics. You'll rarely win in the court of public opinion and you'll probably never get hired anywhere again. I say this even if you were 100% in the right.
By keeping it quiet, the company would be simply getting away with their unjust practices and unprofessional management.
If it's clear that the company cannot see that they are doing something wrong... you'd be keeping it quiet to get exactly what from them?
Don't be like this, don't corrode the commons for personal gain. By not speaking out you are endorsing a harmful asymmetry, make no mistake about your personal responsibility for perpetuating hostile norms.
Some other reason? Meh, it's just a job. But getting thrown into distress, financial or otherwise, warrants looking out for oneself (and family) first.
Choose your battles.
Calling for universal absolute behaviour from everyone is unkind, and, statistically not necessary for the outcomes you want.
Basically; it’s easy to say “call them out!” when it’s not you and youre not taking any risks.
Pretty nice and comfortable to sit in your armchair and say that…
I think there are a lot of people here to want someone else to do it, but aren’t willing to do it themselves.
I had a somewhat curious personal experience at Uber. I went to interview there circa 2016/2017 and got an offer but had to wait for a visa to come out. In the meantime, the Susan Fowler scandal exploded. The hiring manager reached out to me out of his own accord to express his own outrage and how he'd absolutely not tolerate toxic behavior within his area of reach, and that many others within the company shared that feeling.
Turns out he was right: the team I eventually joined was fantastic and indeed there was a very large part of the company that was deeply troubled (and often quite vocal!) about the growing accounts of harassment and injustices. Driven by pressure to get the house in order, this eventually culminated in hundreds of separate investigations, and various degrees of corrective actions (including firing several perpetrators)
Since then, I've heard my share of complaints about higher ups as well (being in a role that involves quite a bit of cross-department communication), so it's not like it's all rainbows and roses, but my main point is that if you ask the average joe in a company, they're often happy to be straightforward with you.
I'd be probably not be speaking about toxic behaviour with a hiring manager, during a high-stake hiring process. Maybe you wouldn't have either if it wasn't for her whistleblowing.
FWIW, I'm involved with hiring and have on occasion been asked by candidates about company culture (and in one case, specifically about the Fowler case). I try to be as candid and transparent as possible with these sorts of topics, because that just seems like the natural thing to do.
Just be careful so it can't be traced back to you. That can be pretty limiting, but it's better than nothing.
GP's statement has a lot of merit. Going on the attack against a well-resourced opponent should only be considered after long and deliberate consultation with legal counsel. Even if you don't involve an attorney, your opponent may/will. Attorneys are expensive and proceedings may take far longer than someone who believes themselves to be in the right may expect.
The system is imperfect, but it abstracts conflict to a higher and more-deliberate plane than bludgeoning one another with sticks or urging a mob to pick up torches.
You don't do this out of the goodness of your heart to inform other people how bad the company is, you do this purely to maximize the probability of receiving any sort of compensation from the company. Most people (?) would only consider this route if they genuinely feel that the company has egregiously wronged them, because it's a big, low-probability-of-success pain, and airing dirty laundry is easier and often more cathartic.
If you have already decided that informing other people is more important to you than a settlement (or have concluded that the effort is not worth your while), then fine, you've made a different decision, and perhaps the commons are better as a result. But if you decide to air the dirty laundry, you'll usually lose the ability to change your mind later.
That sounds like blackmail/extortion. I'm not a lawyer, but the first amendment should protect you pretty well from merely making truthful accusations, but once you threaten money in exchange for not making them it could be construed as a very serious crime.
Avoiding bad PR is one of the reasons most settlements have non-disparagement clauses, usually paired with a confidentiality clause that says you can't even talk about the settlement (and therefore you can't mention or imply the existence of the non-disparagement clause therein).
"Hey thought you should know, my 'security' company is currently for hire for businesses around town. We heard through the underground grapevine that a lot of folks may lose some product in their bodegas next month. Anyway, nice to introduce you to my 'security' business -- have a great month!"
If you revealed that your true intent was blackmail, and that's what this is, to your lawyer or anyone else then I imagine the intent in combination with the act is enough to nail you.
Give me money or I will tell the public that you did me wrong -> not extorsion
Give me money or I will tell the public that you did someone else wrong -> extorsion
I believe that the litmus test is whether you are entitled to a compensation or not.
Either can be defamation though.
In my previous classification it would be extorsion to say "pay me or I will add those things to my accusations" but not to say "pay me or I will drag you in the mud as much as possible", that is it would matter whether you keep them bundled together or not.
Why do you imagine non-disclosure agreements are standard after an out-of-court settlement? It's because "pay me or I'll badmouth you" is essentially always one of the implied threats.
You can call it blackmail if you want (and I'm being deliberately glib here, because I also think it's at least blackmail-esque), but your lawyer and the company's lawyer will absolutely understand that this is how things are done.
Also, this isn't an issue of a company doing something illegal or immoral. We are not talking slave labor or dumping toxic chemicals. This is an argument over compensation levels and therefore I don't think he owes the world his story for the cost of making himself a pariah.
Knowingly missrepresenting the working condition is exactly that: immoral.
INAL but is see no way this would damage his legal leverage... actually the opposite.
IANAL either, but I imagine posting this gives an opening for Atlassian to sue for slander and ruin the author by taking forever to debate minutiae of every sentence in the article - whereas if the author went after Atlassian directly, the case would be only about what the company did or did not do to them personally.
That's one quick police response. Regardless of the merits of the case, I'm scared of the headline itself.
Knowing that I have legally mandated sick leave with pay that covers me for some time has helped immensely while going through this ordeal. Not to mention all healthcare costs taken care of by the state (rather than via some weird golden handcuff scheme with my employer).
I simply can not imagine how vadly workers in the US are exposed when the unexpected happens (and it does, unexpectedly).
Also, even though most Europeans like to say what you said, the fact is still that, as a young healthy individual, the possibility of you even getting sick and needing to go to the doctor is actually incredibly slim. I haven’t visited the doctor except for the dentist in a few years but I’ve paid massive amounts into the German health care system, and I would still much prefer the American pay to the European social system. Maybe when you have a family the European way of life would have more appeal, but even then the system is somewhat collapsing as we speak, e.g. the horrible wait to get an appointment at NHS and also to some extent for the publicly insured Germans. I would still trust having resources at my own disposal instead of leaving my fate on a big, public system working the same for decades, which never happens in history.
I've also done this on yelp when I was working as a contractor when I should have been an employee. The company informed yelp I was an employee, so my review was removed (yelp only has a policy employees cannot leave reviews, they had no such policy for independent contractors at the time I left the review). This was doubly insulting because I tried to inform yelp the entire reason I left a review was because I _should_ have been an employee and not a contractor, and yelp informed me I was actually an employee so I could not use their platform!
I also disagree about it being a career ender to publicly reveal serious dishonesty in your employer. The company I work for now usually laughs when I talk about all the shit I've been through and spoken of ( I worked for two very dishonest companies, out of the dozen or so I've been with). If you work for honest people, then they have a vested interest in the dishonest being exposed (its good for their business).
Atlassian discriminates against parents – by not promoting someone right after they get back from a long parental leave.
Atlassian discriminates in hiring – because a candidate the author liked didn't get picked one time.
Atlassian discriminates on PTO – because the author was denied vacation time right after he got back from medical leave.
If you go to a lawyer they will ask for one solid, verifiable claim, not a dozen vague accusations or angry childish rants.
I've seen plenty of posts like this landing on HN over the years, and it's not always a given the accused party is in the wrong. While my first instinct is obviously to believe the author, I'm withholding judgement until more details are clear.
I keep in mind an old HN drama about AirBnB, I'll try to look up details and edit them in - but what I remember to this day is, there was an angry post vilifying AirBnB, the commenters believed it fully and became very angry. As I recall, pg himself jumped in to defend AirBnB, only to be booed out. I also recall being convinced the company is strongly in the wrong. Then it turned out the situation was entirely opposite, AirBnB was in the right. I felt really stupid for jumping the gun, not waiting for full story to come out.
(And then, of course, AirBnB turned out to be a socially destructive company, so I don't like them anyway - but for different, and better thought out reasons.)
EDIT2: The AirBnB story I refer to happened in 2011, when a blogger described an extremely bad experience with AirBnB, causing one hell of a shitstorm in general startup sphere (with plenty of big names and news outlets getting involved). There was way too much written about this on HN for me to find what was the resolution now - skimming quickly I'm no longer sure which side was proven to be guilty of what. But I do recall the feeling of first being so sure in outrage, and then ashamed after discovering the story is way more complicated than what it seemed at first.
Atlassian should have been more flexible given the circumstances (and maybe they were! The author didn't mention the leave of absence they took, but it's mentioned in their manager's email denying them taking "Vacay Your Way" right after getting back from a leave), but asking for 2 months of PTO all at once is a lot different than taking 9 weeks over 1.5 years. The author did not say they were denied taking any more than 10 days of PTO over that 1.5 years, they were pissed because they felt they were "accruing it" when they were, in fact, not.
This article should be read with a huge grain of salt.
They forget to mention (or I missed) the 30 odd days of “no questions asked” special leave we got over the past 2 years.
They also don’t mention how, by policy, small leave applications are approved, no questions asked.
I’m a current P5 SWE at Atlassian and whilst I agree that going from P5 to P6 tends to be difficult, I can’t say I’ve observed any of the other aspects mentioned in this post.
I personally have a larger frustration with there being too much time off as I actually enjoy the work I do
Neither invalidates the other, because a large company is perfectly capable of both at the same time.
I have no connection to Atlassian, but I've been "forced" to take time off, which I neither needed nor wanted. If I'm working a lot it means I'm enjoying it.
I have also taken quite a bit of PTO when needed by the way; I'm not afraid of doing so. But I don't really like the "one size fits all model" when it comes to this kind of stuff.
Can't you just not take the time off? If it's mandatory I'm sure you could still work while "off". Honestly I have an extremely hard time relating to this sentence.
For people leaving, accrued leave is something that the person could ask to be paid out in cash, or they can take the leave prior to quitting.
As an org grow larger and larger, they'd need to prepare for these to crunch together - and thus, by forcing leave, they can cap the amount of reserves (cash, and people to take over) they need. It's understandable, but of course, frustrates the employee.
Which... is fine? It should get harder and harder to climb the ladder the farther you climb, because -- especially as an individual contributor -- it's hard to increase your impact on the company more and more as you climb. And on the flip side, I see plenty of people getting promoted before they are really ready, and become ineffective -- and worse, counter-effective -- in their new role. Then they either languish, get fired, or get fed up and quit. Or worse, they stick around and make things more difficult for everyone else.
Or those "no question asked" is unpaid time off? But then it wouldn't make send because if you already have unlimited PTO why would anyone take unpaid TO.
A different manager can make a completely different experience in a single company. A rule of thumb when things blow out of proportion is that the manager is quite likely to have been a catalyst.
Even if it’s ill advised, and even if it’s likely to harm OP more financially, only a response as strong as this will make a them think twice about their policies.
What Rosa Parks did wasn’t advisable, but it was the right thing to do. The same can be said of many human rights activists. Not that this is comparable to those struggles, but we all have our part to play in creating a better world.
At least by exposing it publicly, the company is now forced to address the issue in front of... well everyone. And, other people can see if they've been screwed over as well. After decades and decades of employees trying to resolve matters internally and quietly, and just getting retribution, does anyone actually think being quiet is still the way to go?
I mean, that's how #metoo got started, by going public and getting people together to push back on corporate BS. Same applies here, and for all corporate issues.
No they don't. They'll just release a statement saying "to protect employee privacy, we don't comment on any employee's situation, but we will say that we are committed to treating our employees well and blah blah blah". It'll blow over after a few months, and everyone will forget it.
Here's a perfect illustration: You know that recent article that came out about Google not paying their temp employees fairly? Well were you aware of that problem before that article came out? If not, apparently full time Google employees weren't either and are now organizing to fix that.
It's win-win for employees to go public.
Maybe for people of privilege this plan works. But it's at the expense of others without.
This situation is a dispute over compensation (PTO), not an accusation of abuse. I stand by my premise that the best way to help his wife would be to further negotiate with Atlassian for unpaid time off w/med benefits or something similar.
All I see here is "cower and whimper like a kicked dog, roll over on your back and present your belly".
- (Quiet, Lawyer) Watch your target carefully and, when the opportunity presents itself, go for the throat
- (Publicly Yell) Bark loudly at your target with your teeth shown, so that everyone sees you, and the have no choice but to treat you like a rabid dog and put you down.
The problem is that people tell themselves this is what they're going to do and never follow through. It's the perfect way to do absolutely nothing and convince yourself it's the right thing to do.
Given the choice the offer made, the more likely outcome here is that Atlassian will give him nothing, and he'll suffer some hard-to-detect discrimination from other companies for the rest of his career. To use your analogy, he walked into a room full of sword-wielding wolves, stuck out his belly, and said "cut me, I dare you"... after which they said "sure", and disemboweled him.
Hitting them "hard" in a way that would be painful for them would be extremely unlikely in court. He hit them hard in a way that could actually impact their company's ability to retain and attract talented people. He also demonstrated some self respect in the process. I have to think that to many people that - combined with a giant megaphone for telling their story - is worth a lot more than a payout.
I've known people who transition to get a great new job, then pursue a pretty clean case (quietly) against their old company - often with pretty good results.
This demonstrates you have power of choice in your destiny (the opposite of cowering and whimpering) and it's practically much easier to job search while employed. And I've seen old managers let go, not because of the case per se but because they were losing staff.
This type of thing? There is going to be some sympathy for their manager having to manage someone like this (who does not sound very professional).
The case is also easy after you leave. You don't need the money as you have a new job, you don't need to keep your (old) job - you've already left. So it's simple, so and so kept trying to get one room for both of us while travelling, here are their nasty text messages, work environment was not healthy, would prefer not to litigate the issue. Done. Now you are really set.
It's clearly not in your (or any of our) interests to do this, as the obfuscation perpetuates these problems. So what is the motivation behind this kind of post?
This should have been a letter from his lawyer to his ex-employer, probably HR.
Considering this company directly interfered with his ability to care for his wife, it makes sense for him to write this.
It’s worth remembering humans are not entirely rational. The most rational thing would be for him to of simply quit when they weren’t treating him right.
I’ve done that a few times. And it’s worked very well for me.
IMHO, the actions taken by the author, while possibly noble, did nothing to further the benefit of his wife while potentially risking his future employment opportunities. I genuinely want he and his wife to have the best outcome and I just don't see how his actions achieve this goal - in both the short term and the long.
I would have asked for unpaid time off and for Atlassian to continue to pay my medical insurance. That would be a deal which I think could have been reached.
The risk of you becoming so popular that hr will remember your name and blacklist you everywhere is lower then you think.
Speaking out is freeing and healing. That may be part.
People are fed up being told “heres your options take it or leave it” first by slimy managers, then by people like you pretending to be the voice of reason.
The author was fired if you believe the title of the post, so it's way past asking for time off or insurance coverage.
I thoroughly disagree with both these points.
I guess the question is, is it the worst your employer will ever get? Sometimes, if you want to win, the opponent just has to lose more. It might not be a good strategy for improving your own life, but it might be a good strategy for doing as much damage as possible to the organization that has wronged you.
Personally, I generally feel that life is too short. But I think the more belligerent approach is probably better for society in general. If everybody went full Michael Kohlhaas when wronged, the world would be a much better place, and people that do so should be commended.
If I take what is written at face value, and assume it's true, I think it's pretty bad, but unfortunately not that remarkable or unusual. Unless he's holding back some damning evidence of actual law-breaking, I don't really see how Atlassian will be all that hurt by this.
I already wouldn't want to work for Atlassian because I think Jira and Confluence are the some of the worst products I have to use, and working on those would probably drive me to drink. Reading an unsubstantiated, biased account of their employment practices (practices which may not be "practices" but more an unfortunate one-off edge case) doesn't really move the needle much for me.
The four lawyers who would even talk to me basically said this:
Even if you have documentation, there's nothing stopping a company from producing an "HR file" that shows they tried to correct an employee's course, and the employee failed to meet expectations.
There are laws in some states where, if you ask, a company is required to send you all documentation they have about your employment. So I did, and was shocked at how out of sync their records were with reality.
What their records showed was a belligerent, reluctant, and untalented employee, one who was given many many warnings.
Which is not what my actual experience. I was routinely praised by my manager for exceeding expectations, had great relationships with everyone I worked with, could prove that my contributions made the company 3x more than they paid me, etc, etc.
But when struck with pancreatitis, they let me go. While I was in the hospital. Their reason: I didn't request the time off. As if that's a thing you do when you nearly die and are saved by emergency surgery.
TL;DR - it's easy to say "lawyer up", but in reality, much harder to fight than you think, even when you lawyer up.
The good news is I work for a company that doesn't just encourage people to use unlimited PTO, they will frequently pay for vacations for people who go above and beyond. Like, 5 star resort, airfare included for 10 days for up to 4 people.
When my dad was diagnosed with cancer, they said "do what you need to do", as I was his only caregiver. Feeling a bit cautious given past experiences I went on FMLA so that, should things go bad, at least I'd taken the correct legal steps. After being away for two months, when I got back they said "we have unlimited PTO, so we let you use 5 days of FMLA just so it's official, but paid the rest. Welcome back." So, in a way, the first company described did me a favor, since I wouldn't be at my current company had they not fired me.
It was worth every penny I didn't get by telling them I wouldn't sign the severance agreement.
I considered naming my current company but didn't want to be called out for promoting it. If that comes across as a humble brag to you, I can live with that.
If I'm misinterpreting what you're trying to say I'd encourage you to make it easy for me to understand.
To save other foreigners, googling tells me:
1) FMLA: The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job protected leave per year.
2) PTO is paid time off.
Upvoting because I think it's important to talk about this, not because I agree.
Appreciate everyone else's responses around this being a dark pattern where "bad publicity" gets paid off.
How do we incentivize companies to hire people like this? How do as I founder say "I want people like this so that our company is strong, not weak like Shitlassian?"
Is there a role for more anonymity on the internet?
The whole thing seemed very responsible. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a secret thing, but IDK, some things just work like they say.
I can’t see it coming up in a background check, since I get the results and a chance to defend myself, but who knows? If / when I got “filtered”, it would probably be later in the process. At some point, we did talk about past employers and why you left… really seem to remember nothing until an offer was extended.
I was actually quite surprised by how responsible they were (at a surface level at least).
Employers want to keep things as quiet as possible and will settle and stay out of court even if your chances are very slim because a one time payout is cheaper than gathering evidence, assembling lawyers, sapping admin time, etc. Unless you go big and then they will take you to court and most likely you’ll lose because you don’t have lawyers on retainer nor the bank.
Then, even if you win, now you’re persona non grata for most HR departments because typically only particular personalities will take on a company and the chances of you being unpredictable are calculated to have gone up. So make sure it’s a retirement payout as your chances for employment went down.
So, unless it’s something egregious and utterly wrong, take your losses and walk away with a quiet settlement.
It's not right, but that's just how things are.
No, you'll never get hired anywhere again with companies that employ the same tactics. Ideally you've just developed an uber-filter to get rid of all the terrible companies in one go.
This approach always makes you feel better the second you press "publish" in the post, but regret will seep in every day thereafter.
Appreciate everyone else's responses around this being a dark pattern where "pad publicity" gets paid off.
How is that? I would hire them. Maybe the people who won't hire someone who spoke out against an employer are not the ones worth working for.
I think this is wrong... Likely you could win in public opinion. It will not matter much though because
>>you'll probably never get hired anywhere again.
This is likely true. Winning in Public Opinion will not amount to much when you are homeless and hungry
>>I implore you to get legal counsel ASAP, and keep it quiet. Find out all your options
Which will likely amount of little to nothing... Even if you sue likely the legal fees will eat up much of the award. As with most legal battles the only people that win is the lawyers.
He may have disqualified himself from employers looking for single 20-somethings with a complete devotion to work, but there are managers in the world who are going to understand what he and his wife have gone through. Especially after this last year, we're going to have to understand that some of our coworkers have publicly expressed their pain before.
Perhaps a future employer will include a non-disparagement clause but I'd be surprised if he didn't find a new role that was better suited to his new life circumstances.
I admire what this guy is doing.
Fuck that noise.
They're already well-known as a crappy company.
If you’re a white male the lawyer will politely tell you no thanks because you’ll never get punitive damages. Why does that matter you ask? Well ordinarily wrongful termination is only subject to actual damages. So if you get another job in a month you can get at most one month’s pay in damages. But wait it gets better! If you can’t find another job because you’re not able to perform those job duties, say because you’re caring for a sick loved one, then the court will deem that your actual damages are zero. Obviously no lawyer wants even a great shot at winning 30% of nothing on contingency.
The only exception would be if you’re in a jurisdiction with juries that are exceptionally sympathetic to the plights of white men and will vote for punitive damages large enough to make it worth a lawyer’s time.
In any event the consult is free so by all means talk to a lawyer, but realistically you’ll get better results by just asking nicely for a separation package.