This Company Offers Employees In Canada Unlimited Vacation & An Exec Revealed How It Works

Employees are encouraged to take time off! 👀

Senior Creator
​Alida employees in an office. Right: Person walking through an airport in Canada.

Alida employees in an office. Right: Person walking through an airport in Canada.

Employers offer many unique job perks and employee benefits to workers including travel discounts, free meals in offices, four-day workweeks, and more.

Some companies in Canada — like Alida, Uberflip, LoKnow, and Purpose — even offer employees the benefit of unlimited vacation days!

If you've never heard of that job perk and are wondering how unlimited days off actually work, we've got you covered.

Narcity chatted with Tanya Jarrett, the chief people officer at Alida, about the company's Alida Empowered benefit program which includes unlimited vacation, no meeting Fridays and shortened workweeks in the summer months.

"Ultimately, the success of this unlimited vacation really does rely on effective leadership to support and encourage employees to take that time off that they need and proactively plan for it," the exec noted.

So, here's everything you need to know about this job perk including why unlimited vacation is offered, what the pros and cons are, how much time employees take off, why it's favoured over a four-day workweek and more.

Why does the company offer employees unlimited vacation days?

Jarrett told Narcity that Alida's unlimited vacation policy is offered to employees because the company wanted to strengthen the culture around flexibility.

Making sure that employees weren't limited to a certain number of vacation days they could take each year was an important step.

So, employees can use the vacation policy to meet their own needs along with the needs of their teams.

"Of course, there's ongoing operational efficiency and we can't just stop the business. It has to make sense on both sides," Jarrett said. "There was a way to creatively build in that flex in a meaningful way."

What does unlimited vacation actually mean?

"The term unlimited can sometimes maybe feel a bit confusing," Jarrett noted.

It all comes down to communication to make sure that everyone is aligned on what unlimited vacation means and that managers are there to support people with any questions they might have about it.

"While there's no sort of fixed amount, we really do encourage our employees to take around a minimum of four weeks per year," Jarrett said.

But that can always vary based on an employee's individual circumstances.

"We've worked with our managers and people leaders to really ensure that employees are proactively planning vacations," Jarrett said. "That's what matters most, mutual trust."

By proactively planning vacations, everyone can get time off when they want or need it.

"It's just really about balance in all ways: work balance [and] life balance."

"We really do encourage managers to encourage employees to take time off," Jarrett continued. "It's all part of our mental wellness and emotional wellness and physical wellness. We need breaks."

Jarrett also noted that employees are told to aim for four weeks of vacation a year but if someone needs more time off, they're able to take more time off.

What are the pros and cons of offering this job perk to employees?

"Fostering a culture of trust and allowing individuals to manage their work schedule in a way that best suits them, we've sort of seen a significant increase in productivity," Jarrett said.

The company found that promoting a healthy work-life balance and providing employees with the time to prioritize their mental well-being has allowed them to bring their best selves to work.

"When you're happy and engaged and you're just feeling appreciated and recharged, that's when you do your best work," Jarrett noted.

Offering unlimited vacation lets the company support employees to maintain their well-being and empower them to deliver their best work which is "the best of both worlds."

While you might think that people would take advantage of this unlimited vacation policy and take too much time off, that's not actually the case at Alida.

"In terms of feedback or drawbacks, the introduction of unlimited vacation has not really presented us with any significant drawbacks," Jarrett revealed.

The exec said there is a tendency for people to have a sense of guilt when they're offered unlimited time off which is why it's important to be upfront with employees.

"If I say, 'You've just started, here's our policy. I'm happy to tell you that you're going to get four weeks, it's in your contract and if you don't take them you get paid,' you're like, 'Okay, this is a contractual term, just like my compensation,'" Jarret said.

"Too much flexibility can actually create a bit of confusion and chaos."

"If managed incorrectly, it could be detrimental to the company, to the culture, to the business," Jarret continued.

Why switch from a four-day workweek to unlimited vacation?

Alida tested a four-day workweek but it wasn't the right fit for everyone at the company so it was rolled into a new program, Alida Empowered, which also includes unlimited vacation.

That change was made to improve the benefits package and help accommodate the needs of all the company's employees.

The program also offers Fridays off in July and August for a better work-life balance in the summer months, and no meetings on Fridays to give employees uninterrupted work time.

"The changes are really again aimed to provide our employees with a more customized work schedule that's really aligned with their preferences and promoted our view on workplace harmony," Jarrett said.

If your workplace offered unlimited vacation, how much time would you take off?

To find out how Canadians feel about this, Narcity asked people on Facebook, "If your workplace offered unlimited vacation, how much time would you take off?"

Anna Oh said that they would take vacation time as usual but also switch to a four-day workweek with their unlimited vacation days.

"Realistically four weeks, six tops. You still have a job to do," Jessica Bravo commented.

Melanie Elizabeth shared that their work offers unlimited vacation but people barely take time off. So far this year, they've only taken five vacation days.

"I would take a never-ending vacation," Bogdan Kosenko said.

Andréanne Bélanger commented that they would take three weeks off in winter to go on a trip to somewhere warmer and then take three weeks in the summer if they had unlimited vacation.

Using unlimited vacation days depends on if it would cause a workload pile up, Sara Elisabeth shared. If they could still get all of their work done, they would use the job perk to switch to a four-day workweek in the spring and summer.

"Probably six weeks," Jerika Layne said. "It would mostly be very handy for all the appointments I have that have to be scheduled during my work hours."

Laurel Jensen commented that they would take just enough time to stave off burnout, like two or three weeks right away, a long weekend every two months and one weeklong vacation each year.

Kristina Retfalvi would take vacation time to have the same schedule as their kids, including a few hours off at the end of each day, days during summer break and days around Christmas.

"Honestly, I'd not abuse it. I'd take the time I need and probably a long weekend once a month," Amanda Moreau said.

A lot of people commented that they would take as much vacation as possible if their company offered unlimited days off like months at a time, every other week, and more.

Tyler Frausel said they would take a week every couple of months to recharge and spend time with their family.

Quite a few people said that how much time they would take off if their company offered unlimited vacation would depend on if those days are paid or not.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Lisa Belmonte
Senior Creator
Lisa Belmonte is a Senior Creator for Narcity Media focused on jobs and careers and is based in Ontario.