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Company offers student loan payments for unused vacation days

Many workers never take full advantage of their vacation days, and companies are starting to get creative with how they capitalize on that.

The insurance company Unum now offers employees a choice: trade in those unused vacation days for student loan payments. But does this idea have a downside?

How it works

Unum is offering employees the chance to turn unused vacation days into cash. Starting next year, employees can transfer unused vacation into loan payments. The payment is simply an employee’s hourly rate for a standard eight-hour day.

The company claims this will allow employees to chip away at student loan debt. People can now take advantage of vacation days that would have gone unused.

Is this glorifying overwork?

Some worry that allowing employees to forego vacation days sends the wrong message. That it could foster an atmosphere of overwork. Vacations are important to help employees recharge and resist burnout. Employees who don't take any time off can risk burnout. Work fatigue can affect personal productivity and overall health.

Giving people an incentive to skip vacations risks creating a competitive environment. If everyone's skipping time off, some individuals may feel pressured to do the same. While reducing loan payments is a good thing, it may come at the expense of workplace health. People may apply days off towards a loan payment instead of taking needed time off.

Defending employees’ rights

Ideally, all employees should be able to take time off to recuperate when necessary. Those who can take time off shouldn’t feel pressured by their company to forfeit vacation days. Even when it’s to pay down student loans.

If you feel your company is unfairly pressuring you or other employees to give up benefits they promised you, a skilled employment law attorney can help.

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