Thursday, December 27, 2018

They Took Our Jobs (Dey Took Ur JUBZ)

While trying to caffenate myself I ran across this little gem of an article discussing the days American workers leave unused, and therefore lose, annually:

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/articles/2018-12-27/people-in-these-10-us-states-dont-go-on-vacation

I was annoyed with myself as I am losing two days this year because I didn't take them before the deadline. I've already started plotting out how to rectify this and make sure it doesn't happen again. The reason for this year is I work for a company that was acquired by another one. My previous company decided to do something "For Us" and gave us unlimited PTO.

You read that right, unlimited PTO.

Any time we wanted off work, we simply told our boss and, as long as staffing was sufficient for that time period, we were supposed to get the time off. Sounds great right?

Here's the motivation behind it.

Those of us who have worked in the industry for a while know it's a good idea to carry a vacation balance. The reason for this is if you have to take an extended period off for a family emergency you still got a check and didn't have to fight with short-term disability. If you survived the American economy from 2004 through the Obama years you were also faced with the possibility your job would be eliminated through a RIF (Reduction In Force / aka "Layoffs"). I, like many others, kept a week or two buffer so I would keep a check coming for as long as I could if something happened. It's called "Planning."

When the "Unlimited PTO" plan was rolled out, we stopped accruing vacation. Eventually through attrition the existing PTO was eliminated from the books. No new vacation was added and everyone could take as much time as they wanted.

Work all the time and never take a day off? NO PROBLEM!

Work hard and take two weeks every year with your family? NO PROBLEM!

Show up and answer some emails occasionally so you can take a six week holiday to Hedonism 20XX? NO PROBLEM!

So why am I bringing this up? As long as you get the time off, it sounds great right? It's all about accounting my friends.

PTO/Vacation is kept on the accounting books and impacts a company negatively from a financial perspective year over year. Think of it as a bill they have to pay, like a credit card debt. My company was in the process of trying to sell out to another company and in order to get the books looking as nice as possible, they did this little trick to force the books to be cleared. This way, they could get a better price when they sold.

Full disclosure, I know about this practice thanks to ANOTHER company I worked for which "Gifted" us with forced time off at Christmas every year. It was "Great" because we didn't have to worry about work from Christmas through New Years and could "Spend Time with Family". In reality, it meant you had to always fight with keeping track of your PTO balances to ensure you had enough to get paid through Christmas and take a vacation you WANTED to take at any other point in the year other than Christmas.

So why am I wasting an agry diatribe on this article? I keyed off this line:

"Unused vacation days cost the U.S. economy some $255 billion in 2017, and Americans using that vacation time could have generated 1.9 million jobs, the group said."

Get that? By working hard to ensure our own survival, we are costing the economy jobs. What I can read into the line is, by being hard workers, we prevent the companies we work for from having to hire additional employees to cover the jobs we wouldn't finish if we took vacation.

In short? We're being dirty Capitalists by watching out for ourselves and our families and work too hard.

At least I'm honest with my bias.

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