Author Topic: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?  (Read 3479 times)

Dusty Dog Ranch

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Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« on: February 20, 2017, 01:18:24 PM »
DH and I were musing about reducing our hours at work to have more time for other pursuits, while also keeping our health care coverage and my pension going. We realized that what we want most is a chunk of time, say 5 weeks, each year, to go travel. January is a pretty slow time at both of our workplaces, so we'd probably propose that timing.

He earns 3 weeks of vacation leave per year, and I earn 4 weeks per year, so we wouldn't have to take the whole 5 weeks unpaid. Not sure if that would make a difference to our employers since the result is still us being gone for just over a month. We did just take almost a month to travel in September, and I have a coworker who has been gone for a couple of trips of that length, so there's precedence for being gone for a stretch.

Has anyone worked out an arrangement like this with their employer? How did you convince them? What else should we be evaluating before we make a pitch?

Thanks!




I'm a red panda

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2017, 02:05:40 PM »
My employer requires extraordinary circumstances to grant unpaid leave, except if negotiated as a terms of hiring.  In general, you lose your benefits during the unpaid time; and would need to go on COBRA for insurance.

AZDude

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2017, 02:33:05 PM »
That is crazy. I've taken unpaid leave before, although on a much smaller scale, and plenty of people have taken unpaid maternity/paternity leave past the federally mandated 6 weeks.

Just talk to your employer. Chances are you can work something out. I have considered going the same route, only timing it to coincide with my wife's summer vacation.


I'm a red panda

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2017, 02:55:09 PM »
That is crazy. I've taken unpaid leave before, although on a much smaller scale, and plenty of people have taken unpaid maternity/paternity leave past the federally mandated 6 weeks.

Just talk to your employer. Chances are you can work something out. I have considered going the same route, only timing it to coincide with my wife's summer vacation.

We can get FMLA (12 weeks) unpaid, or "FMLA-like" if your office isn't actually FMLA protected for the same 12 weeks; but it has to be a qualifying circumstance.  A vacation isn't covered.  We can also get a 6 week extension to FMLA or FMLA-like leave, but you lose your benefits for that one.

Proud Foot

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2017, 03:40:23 PM »
If you do this, make sure you get everything in writing that you have negotiated for your time off.  For only 1 and 2 weeks unpaid for each of you, talk with them to see if you can structure how your vacation hours are processed on the payroll so you don't have any paychecks with zero hours on them.  This would help out with the insurance issue.

lthenderson

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2017, 04:46:29 PM »
Back when I was working, I tried this with every employer I worked for and none of them would allow me to do so unless it was for specific circumstances around family and health. Vacations weren't one of them. I even tried the route of taking a pay cut to get more vacation time to arrive at the same financial place for both of us but was never successful using either route. I was always salaried. I think your options are greater if you work an hourly position.

JoJo

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2017, 04:48:16 PM »
I've done it twice in my career - once as a Leave of Absence.  You should avoid this as your job isn't protected and you'll likely have to pay for your own benefits.

Now I'm doing it differently:
http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/share-your-badassity/it's-official-going-'part-time'/

trollwithamustache

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2017, 05:00:22 PM »
What kinds of business are you in? is it billable work of some flavor?
This would be very doable at many engineering firms. All the work tends to dry up at the end of the year and take a while to re-start so if some of the people on overhead want to take unpaid time off, it removes an overhead expense for the firm.

Dusty Dog Ranch

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2017, 05:15:45 PM »
Thanks for chiming in JoJo! I went a-googling for that post of yours without luck before starting this thread.

I'm curious how the details work of being gone for a while but keeping your insurance going. Are you paying more for your share of health insurance? PM me if you'd rather.

It looks like I can take 10 days of LWOP per calendar month without impact to my benefits & vacation and sick leave. I need to run some more math to see what would happen to my service credits. Some of the rules are based on calendar month, so if I time it right I may be able to mitigate for some of these.

I work for a local/state agency, and my husband is with a very small nonprofit. I am in the upper tier of pay within the office, so taking unpaid time off would create some budget room. My job is a mix of billable (to grants) and overhead hours.

JoJo

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2017, 05:35:23 PM »
I worked out a pay cut, and just keep 100% of benefits, including health.  That being said, if I'm traveling my health insurance won't work out of the country so I'll have travel accident insurance for that.  For the company, the health insurance is peanuts compared to the other benefits that are proportionately reduce with my salary (bonus, 401k match, SS taxes).

There are a few people at my company that are part time and keep their benefits so it's akin to that - only I'm taking my time in chunks, and they're taking 1 or 2 days off per week.

trollwithamustache

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2017, 05:37:12 PM »
hmm, the engineering company analogy may not apply if you work someplace with really good benefits.  Generic Engineering Co  usually matches a tinkle to your 401k and some of your health insurance and that's about it.   So if you go unpaid and your crappy benefits costs get spread out over say 1600 hours a year instead of closer to 1840 -1900 it just doesn't really affect  them. They save a lot more for the $$ avoided while you were taken off overhead. Things like vacation accrue over hours worked so that corrects out for them. A guy I work with right now is down to about 1700 hours a year I think.

But if you have good benefits, that's a real cost the employer is paying while you aren't working.

iris lily

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2017, 05:39:16 PM »
I had a couple of creative tries by my staff over the years to this sort of thing.

I reminded them that  their job was a full time job, and if it wasn't, that was interesting news to me. i might explore that with them to find out how much excess time they seemed to have, because if they had excess time, I could always give them additional assignments. Or, if there was even a lot
of free time, perhaps we didnt need their position sfter all.

FMLA absences always hit us hard and it was a scramble t keep up.

Seasonal work wasnt really the thing where I worked. We had busy times and slow times, but they were not especially predictible.

« Last Edit: February 21, 2017, 10:12:05 AM by iris lily »

damyst

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2017, 11:46:58 PM »
I had a couple of creative tries by my staff over the years to this sort of thing.

I reminded them that  their job was a full time job, and if it wasn't, that was interesting news to me. i might explore that with them to find out how much excess time they seemed to have, because if they had excess time, I could always give them additional assignments. Or, if there was even a L
O?t of free time, perhaps we didnt need their position sfter all.


FMLA absences always hit us hard and it was a scramble t keep up.

Seasonal work wasnt really the thing where I worked. We had busy times and slow times, but they were not especially predictible.

This is a very interesting viewpoint, considering the forum we're on, which presumably attracts folks who work to live rather than live to work.
I'd love to understand why this attitude is so prevalent among employers and managers.
From where I stand, the inability of employees to determine their work/life/pay balance is a huge problem with the modern workplace.

In the tech industry (where I work), employers will shower their staff with money and perks; buy them meals and drinks and gifts; fly them to conferences and off-site events; allow them to work from home pretty much whenever they want; they even populate the office with toys that are explicitly there to distract you from working, like foosball tables and game consoles and such.
But try to negotiate for additional time to do what you love - even at a lesser pay - and all that largesse evaporates immediately.
No dice, unless one has a "nuclear option" at their disposal.

I can absolutely empathize with managers here. Obviously, completing a project with 10 half-time employees is far less efficient and more costly than doing the same work with 5 full-time staff.
But so what? We're literally talking about people's lives here. In an alternate universe, employers who refuse to budge on this front would gain a reputation, and their competitors would be luring away their staff with promises of better work/life balance.


My own unpaid-leave history, by the way:

2005: A few months into my first full-time position after graduation. I wanted six months off for an extended honeymoon. The company would only offer three. I walked into my boss's office and told him I'm quitting. I got the six-month leave, along with a comment about how they don't really like the idea.

2015: Was really stressed at my job, and my boss made a comment about the crazy hours I work. I used the opportunity to ask for another 5-10 days of time off per year (paid or unpaid).
He said no, "because the team needs stability".
That was when I started thinking seriously about escaping from the rat race. A few months later I happened on a newspaper article about an engineer who retired at age 30, and started reading his blog..



Villanelle

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2017, 12:10:44 AM »
Thanks for chiming in JoJo! I went a-googling for that post of yours without luck before starting this thread.

I'm curious how the details work of being gone for a while but keeping your insurance going. Are you paying more for your share of health insurance? PM me if you'd rather.

It looks like I can take 10 days of LWOP per calendar month without impact to my benefits & vacation and sick leave. I need to run some more math to see what would happen to my service credits. Some of the rules are based on calendar month, so if I time it right I may be able to mitigate for some of these.

I work for a local/state agency, and my husband is with a very small nonprofit. I am in the upper tier of pay within the office, so taking unpaid time off would create some budget room. My job is a mix of billable (to grants) and overhead hours.

Do you think your agency would be willing and able to give you a pay cut in exchange for an additional 40 hours per year of vacation time?  That might be the best solution, although they still have to be willing to have you gone for 30 days consecutively, which no agency I ever worked for would have been willing to do for something like vacation (as opposed to a health issue, death in immediate family, etc.).  Having one's job covered for a week or two is generally just having someone else put out fires as they come up.  When it gets to be much more than that, the burden on the rest of the office increases as issues can't just be tabled until someone's return.  That's why no place I've ever worked would allow this, and why I wouldn't be surprised if you can't sell both your workplaces on it.

Would you be willing to work at all--even one half day a week--during the vacation, and is your job something that could be done (at least party) remotely?That might be something else to consider if you can't sell the 5 week long leave.

gerardc

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #14 on: February 21, 2017, 01:00:10 AM »
In the tech industry (where I work), employers will shower their staff with money and perks; buy them meals and drinks and gifts; fly them to conferences and off-site events; allow them to work from home pretty much whenever they want; they even populate the office with toys that are explicitly there to distract you from working, like foosball tables and game consoles and such.
But try to negotiate for additional time to do what you love - even at a lesser pay - and all that largesse evaporates immediately.
No dice, unless one has a "nuclear option" at their disposal.

I can absolutely empathize with managers here. Obviously, completing a project with 10 half-time employees is far less efficient and more costly than doing the same work with 5 full-time staff.
But so what? We're literally talking about people's lives here. In an alternate universe, employers who refuse to budge on this front would gain a reputation, and their competitors would be luring away their staff with promises of better work/life balance.

Yes, sigh. I don't know why tech employers insist on full-time. I've always done my best work under flexible, remote and part-time conditions. Since I'd be willing to forego a significant portion of my salary for roughly the same output, why don't more employers adopt this strategy? They would crush the competition with their cost savings. But that's so contrary to american corporate culture, possibly due to the nature of jobs historically that has never been revised.

Or maybe, it just doesn't work and workers really are more efficient working all day every day...

1. High frequency: few hours per day, every day
2. Medium frequency: few days per week (classical part-time)
3. Low frequency: unpaid leaves, sabbatical, seasonal work
4. Very low frequency: rush to fire, then quit forever

Is 4 really the best from a productivity standpoint? Maybe I am the outlier.

Able was I ERE

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #15 on: February 21, 2017, 02:13:38 AM »
I've taken unpaid leave each of the past three years from my tech job.  Once to travel cross country and back, once to move overseas, and finally to visit "home" again.

The first time, I asked for the extra time off and explained why I wanted to take it---health insurance continued uninterrupted and my boss was excited to hear about the trip.  The second time, I technically quit my job in order to move (but ended up getting rehired remotely once moved).  Now, I work as a remote contractor with lots of flexibility, so taking time off is as easy as notifying my team in advance.  No benefits, but as much unpaid time off as I want.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #16 on: February 21, 2017, 03:37:35 AM »
Could you take your annual leave at half pay? What does your EBA or contract have in it? Would you even consider changing jobs if you are after a better work/life balance?

I had a couple of creative tries by my staff over the years to this sort of thing.

I reminded them that  their job was a full time job, and if it wasn't, that was interesting news to me. i might explore that with them to find out how much excess time they seemed to have, because if they had excess time, I could always give them additional assignments. Or, if there was even a L
O?t of free time, perhaps we didnt need their position sfter all.


FMLA absences always hit us hard and it was a scramble t keep up.

Seasonal work wasnt really the thing where I worked. We had busy times and slow times, but they were not especially predictible.

Yikes, is this the normal attitude in the US? It seems pretty mean to be honest.

brian313313

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #17 on: February 21, 2017, 05:40:51 AM »
Most employers I've had would not go for this. I tried to negotiate with my current employer and he told me the company wouldn't go for it. I think it was just him. We'll find out in about a year because I plan on taking time off. I can either resign and come back or take unpaid PTO. I think they'll go for the latter when it's not a choice. That's one of the benefits of FU money that I like. If they didn't want me back, I'd find a new position and money wouldn't really be an issue.

One time I turned in my resignation with cause because I was too burnt out. My boss said "you can't quit over this". He gave me 30 days off. No pay, but he continued my health coverage. I still quit about a year later. The job really sucked.

Part-time work is something I have not had much trouble convincing employers with after I've been there full time. I generally quit and offer to stay on part-time for a while. Sometimes it's been because I'm working another job and sometimes I'm taking it easy.

The interesting thing about the corporate culture, once you're over a certain age the on/off and part-time become very acceptable. I have a friend who's 72 and still works at his old employer as a contractor. He's always having to complain to them because he's working over 1000 hr/year which is his "retirement" max by his own definition. My mother did the same when she retired but she's completely done now. My guess is that a lot of the time it's not the company and their needs but the boss, bosses boss, etc. I'm quite certain that's why I could not negotiate that with my current position. My boss said the company wouldn't go for it, but there are part-time people in other departments. I know of at least one person who is on/off also.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2017, 06:03:30 AM by brian313313 »

dcozad999

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #18 on: February 21, 2017, 09:07:29 AM »
I work for a very large corporation so maybe this isn't the norm, but we are able to purchase pre-paid leave each year, I think up to 10 days. It's basically a benefit that is taken out of your biweekly paychecks throughout the year. I've never actually participated in it, but you should check into whether your company offers this.

rothwem

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #19 on: February 21, 2017, 09:31:11 AM »
I work for a very large corporation so maybe this isn't the norm, but we are able to purchase pre-paid leave each year, I think up to 10 days. It's basically a benefit that is taken out of your biweekly paychecks throughout the year. I've never actually participated in it, but you should check into whether your company offers this.

Are you at a United Technologies Corporation site?  I recall that from when I used to work at Kidde (now UTC Aerospace Systems)

JoJo

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #20 on: February 21, 2017, 10:04:33 AM »
I work for a very large corporation so maybe this isn't the norm, but we are able to purchase pre-paid leave each year, I think up to 10 days. It's basically a benefit that is taken out of your biweekly paychecks throughout the year. I've never actually participated in it, but you should check into whether your company offers this.

My sister company does this but you can only buy 5 days.  Same thing, it's a pay cut but then you have more PTO.

iris lily

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #21 on: February 21, 2017, 10:35:16 AM »
I had a couple of creative tries by my staff over the years to this sort of thing.

I reminded them that  their job was a full time job, and if it wasn't, that was interesting news to me. i might explore that with them to find out how much excess time they seemed to have, because if they had excess time, I could always give them additional assignments. Or, if there was even a L
O?t of free time, perhaps we didnt need their position sfter all.


FMLA absences always hit us hard and it was a scramble t keep up.

Seasonal work wasnt really the thing where I worked. We had busy times and slow times, but they were not especially predictible.

This is a very interesting viewpoint, considering the forum we're on, which presumably attracts folks who work to live rather than live to work.
I'd love to understand why this attitude is so prevalent among employers and managers.
From where I stand, the inability of employees to determine their work/life/pay balance is a huge problem with the modern workplace.

In the tech industry (where I work), employers will shower their staff with money and perks; buy them meals and drinks and gifts; fly them to conferences and off-site events; allow them to work from home pretty much whenever they want; they even populate the office with toys that are explicitly there to distract you from working, like foosball tables and game consoles and such.
But try to negotiate for additional time to do what you love - even at a lesser pay - and all that largesse evaporates immediately.
No dice, unless one has a "nuclear option" at their disposal.

I can absolutely empathize with managers here. Obviously, completing a project with 10 half-time employees is far less efficient and more costly than doing the same work with 5 full-time staff.
But so what? We're literally talking about people's lives here. In an alternate universe, employers who refuse to budge on this front would gain a reputation, and their competitors would be luring away their staff with promises of better work/life balance.


My own unpaid-leave history, by the way:

2005: A few months into my first full-time position after graduation. I wanted six months off for an extended honeymoon. The company would only offer three. I walked into my boss's office and told him I'm quitting. I got the six-month leave, along with a comment about how they don't really like the idea.

2015: Was really stressed at my job, and my boss made a comment about the crazy hours I work. I used the opportunity to ask for another 5-10 days of time off per year (paid or unpaid).
He said no, "because the team needs stability".
That was when I started thinking seriously about escaping from the rat race. A few months later I happened on a newspaper article about an engineer who retired at age 30, and started reading his blog..

I think it is great when companies loosen restrictions on full time employment and offer creative options for employees such as extended vacation time with lesser pay, or seasonal, or part time.  I truly think it is wonderful! Diversity in ideas and practices is a good thing.

This will probably become more normal as small companies create innovative work options.

I would just counsel those who are looking for a special deal with their vacation hours to make that issue their No. 1 priority in a job search. Please consider the view that a new employee who makes this request of a company looks ss though he/she is

1) all about his/her special snowflake status

2) seems to be showing that he/she does not value their colleagues' contributions to taking up slack in the workplace when snowflake is gone

I recognize that work and life balance is important. I also recognize that many workplace  situations could be more flexible then they now are.  What I dont  support is one person thinking they are worthy of torquing an entire workplace system to accommodate his/her specific desire for the perfect work situation.

Where I work several people in full time positions would have definately gone part time, me included. actually my preferred schedule  would have been part time and seasonal. But that didn't fit with the goals and objectives of my organization. So in order to get what I wanted (time off became more
important than salary or The fun part of the work) I retired, a bit early. And got to pay $14,000 annually for health insurance coverage for me snd spouse.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2017, 10:40:47 AM by iris lily »

iris lily

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #22 on: February 21, 2017, 11:20:43 AM »
I had a couple of creative tries by my staff over the years to this sort of thing.

I reminded them that  their job was a full time job, and if it wasn't, that was interesting news to me. i might explore that with them to find out how much excess time they seemed to have, because if they had excess time, I could always give them additional assignments. Or, if there was even a L
O?t of free time, perhaps we didnt need their position sfter all.


FMLA absences always hit us hard and it was a scramble t keep up.

Seasonal work wasnt really the thing where I worked. We had busy times and slow times, but they were not especially predictible.

This is a very interesting viewpoint, considering the forum we're on, which presumably attracts folks who work to live rather than live to work.
I'd love to understand why this attitude is so prevalent among employers and managers.
From where I stand, the inability of employees to determine their work/life/pay balance is a huge problem with the modern workplace.

In the tech industry (where I work), employers will shower their staff with money and perks; buy them meals and drinks and gifts; fly them to conferences and off-site events; allow them to work from home pretty much whenever they want; they even populate the office with toys that are explicitly there to distract you from working, like foosball tables and game consoles and such.
But try to negotiate for additional time to do what you love - even at a lesser pay - and all that largesse evaporates immediately.
No dice, unless one has a "nuclear option" at their disposal.

I can absolutely empathize with managers here. Obviously, completing a project with 10 half-time employees is far less efficient and more costly than doing the same work with 5 full-time staff.
But so what? We're literally talking about people's lives here. In an alternate universe, employers who refuse to budge on this front would gain a reputation, and their competitors would be luring away their staff with promises of better work/life balance.


My own unpaid-leave history, by the way:

2005: A few months into my first full-time position after graduation. I wanted six months off for an extended honeymoon. The company would only offer three. I walked into my boss's office and told him I'm quitting. I got the six-month leave, along with a comment about how they don't really like the idea.

2015: Was really stressed at my job, and my boss made a comment about the crazy hours I work. I used the opportunity to ask for another 5-10 days of time off per year (paid or unpaid).
He said no, "because the team needs stability".
That was when I started thinking seriously about escaping from the rat race. A few months later I happened on a newspaper article about an engineer who retired at age 30, and started reading his blog..

I think it is great when companies loosen restrictions on full time employment and offer creative options for employees such as extended vacation time with lesser pay, or seasonal, or part time.  I truly think it is wonderful! Diversity in ideas and practices is a good thing.

This will probably become more normal as small companies create innovative work options.

I would just counsel those who are looking for a special deal with their vacation hours to make that issue their No. 1 priority in a job search. Please consider the view that a new employee who makes this request of a company looks ss though he/she is

1) all about his/her special snowflake status

2) seems to be showing that he/she does not value their colleagues' contributions to taking up slack in the workplace when snowflake is gone

I recognize that work and life balance is important. I also recognize that many workplace  situations could be more flexible then they now are.  What I dont  support is one person thinking they are worthy of torquing an entire workplace system to accommodate his/her specific desire for the perfect work situation.

Where I work several people in full time positions would have definately gone part time, me included. actually my preferred schedule  would have been part time and seasonal. But that didn't fit with the goals and objectives of my organization. So in order to get what I wanted (time off became more
important than salary or The fun part of the work) I retired, a bit early. And got to pay $14,000 annually for health insurance coverage for me snd spouse.

Great example of the type of management that make people want to FIRE in the first place.  Somewhere along the line the two way street of respect and loyalty between employees and employers eroded.  Now employees will jump ship at the first better offer and employers will do all they can to get an extra 5 minutes of work out of you without an additional 5 minutes worth of compensation.
Yes, agreed! Haha.But I think you just want to complain anout  employers.

FIRE is the ultimate way to get your vacations.

Another option is self employment and contract work. Want 5 weeks vacation in February? Dont take on any work contracts during that period. Want three weeks off in June? Tell your clients you are unabailable then.

See, it isnt as though the structure does not exist to get OP what he/she wants. It does! Consultant, contract work, etc. use those tools! And even better, build companies that prioritize the work hours you would like to see standadized.

The freedom to craft your own life and business in these United States is pretty awesome. My DH went into busness for himself, partly due to extensive work hours at his company, and he greatly valued time off of his choice. He worked many long hours and didnt make as much money as when punching a time clock for someone else, but the self determined hours were gold.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2017, 11:26:14 AM by iris lily »

JoJo

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #23 on: February 21, 2017, 11:22:39 AM »

I think it is great when companies loosen restrictions on full time employment and offer creative options for employees such as extended vacation time with lesser pay, or seasonal, or part time.  I truly think it is wonderful! Diversity in ideas and practices is a good thing.

This will probably become more normal as small companies create innovative work options.

I would just counsel those who are looking for a special deal with their vacation hours to make that issue their No. 1 priority in a job search. Please consider the view that a new employee who makes this request of a company looks ss though he/she is

1) all about his/her special snowflake status

2) seems to be showing that he/she does not value their colleagues' contributions to taking up slack in the workplace when snowflake is gone

I recognize that work and life balance is important. I also recognize that many workplace  situations could be more flexible then they now are.  What I dont  support is one person thinking they are worthy of torquing an entire workplace system to accommodate his/her specific desire for the perfect work situation.

Where I work several people in full time positions would have definately gone part time, me included. actually my preferred schedule  would have been part time and seasonal. But that didn't fit with the goals and objectives of my organization. So in order to get what I wanted (time off became more
important than salary or The fun part of the work) I retired, a bit early. And got to pay $14,000 annually for health insurance coverage for me snd spouse.

Wow.  Just Wow.  As a snowflake, I'm glad I don't work for you.  So you're bitter that you had to pay for your own insurance in ER while some of us a part time with health care? 

That being said, I agree that new employees shouldn't ask for this.  I took my unpaid leave of absence after 7 years at my company and now going part time in my 11th year.  And this going part time was not a super risk for me as I'm already FI.  The work is still fun but I valued the time off more so this is a great compromise.  If it stops being fun then full retirement will begin. 

iris lily

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #24 on: February 21, 2017, 11:27:23 AM »

I think it is great when companies loosen restrictions on full time employment and offer creative options for employees such as extended vacation time with lesser pay, or seasonal, or part time.  I truly think it is wonderful! Diversity in ideas and practices is a good thing.

This will probably become more normal as small companies create innovative work options.

I would just counsel those who are looking for a special deal with their vacation hours to make that issue their No. 1 priority in a job search. Please consider the view that a new employee who makes this request of a company looks ss though he/she is

1) all about his/her special snowflake status

2) seems to be showing that he/she does not value their colleagues' contributions to taking up slack in the workplace when snowflake is gone

I recognize that work and life balance is important. I also recognize that many workplace  situations could be more flexible then they now are.  What I dont  support is one person thinking they are worthy of torquing an entire workplace system to accommodate his/her specific desire for the perfect work situation.

Where I work several people in full time positions would have definately gone part time, me included. actually my preferred schedule  would have been part time and seasonal. But that didn't fit with the goals and objectives of my organization. So in order to get what I wanted (time off became more
important than salary or The fun part of the work) I retired, a bit early. And got to pay $14,000 annually for health insurance coverage for me snd spouse.

Wow.  Just Wow.  As a snowflake, I'm glad I don't work for you.  So you're bitter that you had to pay for your own insurance in ER while some of us a part time with health care? 

That being said, I agree that new employees shouldn't ask for this.  I took my unpaid leave of absence after 7 years at my company and now going part time in my 11th year.  And this going part time was not a super risk for me as I'm already FI.  The work is still fun but I valued the time off more so this is a great compromise.  If it stops being fun then full retirement will begin.
Not bitter at all. Stating a fact. One of the postors upthread is concerned, as he/she should be, at paying COBRA prices. It aint cheap.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2017, 06:20:44 AM by iris lily »

damyst

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #25 on: February 21, 2017, 12:32:28 PM »
FIRE is the ultimate way to get your vacations.

Another option is self employment and contract work. Want 5 weeks vacation in February? Dont take on any work contracts during that period. Want three weeks off in June? Tell your clients you are unabailable then.

See, it isnt as though the structure does not exist to get OP what he/she wants. It does! Consultant, contract work, etc. use those tools! And even better, build companies that prioritize the work hours you would like to see standadized.

The freedom to craft your own life and business in these United States is pretty awesome. My DH went into busness for himself, partly due to extensive work hours at his company, and he greatly valued time off of his choice. He worked many long hours and didnt make as much money as when punching a time clock for someone else, but the self determined hours were gold.

This is precisely the false dichotomy that irks me. Want flexibility? Be your own boss! Don't want to be your own boss? You'll get as much flexibility as you can force the employer to give you, and not an inch more.

I don't want to be my own boss, although given the alternatives, it's gonna happen sooner or later. I'm more efficient working in a framework that others have already set up. There is no valid reason to force employees to work full time when they can support themselves and bring value to the organization by working less. It's just dogma.

AZDude

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #26 on: February 21, 2017, 04:21:25 PM »
Quote
I can absolutely empathize with managers here. Obviously, completing a project with 10 half-time employees is far less efficient and more costly than doing the same work with 5 full-time staff.
But so what? We're literally talking about people's lives here. In an alternate universe, employers who refuse to budge on this front would gain a reputation, and their competitors would be luring away their staff with promises of better work/life balance.

This is not true. Studies have shown that after 6 hours of being at work that your productivity falls off a cliff. If you need 400 hours of work to be done in a week, the best option to have 13 people working 30 hours a week, a good option is the traditional 10 people at 40 hours, and the worst is having less people and force them to work crazy hours.

This is in general, so I don't want to hear Mr/Ms SmartyPants coming in here with some anecdotal story.

Also, the "nuclear option" is leaving to go somewhere else. It costs companies plenty more money to hire and train someone than to retain a good employee. Most people are too goddamn scared to stand up for themselves, even if it means finding a new job. One of the benefits of being financially responsible and even a little savvy is to lose the fear of sudden job loss.

Let go of your fear. Unless you have a fantastic job you absolutely love that pays well above the competition, then keep your resume up to date, keep in touch with your network of industry contacts, etc... Just in case that day comes when your employer decides to be unreasonable. Not just that, but I have found in my career that if you do a really good job and volunteer for those somewhat shitty assignments when you have the time, your employer will be much more reasonable.

Don't be afraid to ask and especially do not be afraid to simply tell your employee what you are doing and force them to make the decision(IE: I've decided to spend the summer backpacking. I will be gone for two months, but I hope to return to this role in the fall. However, I understand if you cannot guarantee my job.) Now its no longer you asking them to tell its OK, its you asking them whether they want you to keep working there.

SomedayStache

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #27 on: February 22, 2017, 01:51:40 PM »
Following

A co-worker went on an extended vacation a few years back (we are federal employees).  He tried to negotiate ahead of time and was very upfront with his plans, but he didn't get any sort of official 'go ahead'.  HE took the trip anyway, ran out of accrued leave, and was marked AWOL.  I guess it went up the chain and had to be reported to VERY.IMPORTANT.PEOPLE.  ? I don't know the details, but he's still employed.  His AWOL time was only a week or two and not a regular occurrence.  I've gotta hit him up now that it's been a few years and see what the fallout from that ended up being.

SKL-HOU

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #28 on: February 22, 2017, 02:34:47 PM »
I work for a very large consulting engineering/architecture company. We have unpaid time off available but it has to be approved. One coworker takes off 6 weeks (all at once) every year around march. He takes other vacations too. We also have 20 hour or 30 hour PT options (with benefits) although I am sure that would have to be approved as well. My future plans actually include making use of the 20 hour option (once I get to a point I feel comfortable) mainly for health insurance. My previous company (also large and in the same field) had 24 hour PT option with benefits.

damyst

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #29 on: February 23, 2017, 02:36:15 AM »
Quote
I can absolutely empathize with managers here. Obviously, completing a project with 10 half-time employees is far less efficient and more costly than doing the same work with 5 full-time staff.
But so what? We're literally talking about people's lives here. In an alternate universe, employers who refuse to budge on this front would gain a reputation, and their competitors would be luring away their staff with promises of better work/life balance.

This is not true. Studies have shown that after 6 hours of being at work that your productivity falls off a cliff. If you need 400 hours of work to be done in a week, the best option to have 13 people working 30 hours a week, a good option is the traditional 10 people at 40 hours, and the worst is having less people and force them to work crazy hours.

This is in general, so I don't want to hear Mr/Ms SmartyPants coming in here with some anecdotal story.

The number that is backed by decades of research (over a century, in fact) is 40 hours of productive work per employee per week. Of course you can tweak the parameters of a given study to obtain whichever number you want.
If you make your staff work 60 hours per week, you still get only 40 hours of productivity out of them.
If they work 25 hours per week, you get 25 hours of productivity. Not 30, certainly not 40.

This would be the end of the story if an employer's fixed costs per employee were zero. I thought it was obvious that they aren't, but I guess I'll spell it out: health benefits; office/workshop space; tools; hiring & training; administration; communication overhead.
If the employees in question are knowledge industry rock stars who produce 100K of revenue per month, then the fixed costs are not a big deal. If we're talking about a lower margin industry, then just counting productive hours per employee is meaningless.

Circling back, I was arguing that it's time flexible schedules became the expected norm in all workplaces, rather than a perk only awarded to those who have quote-unquote "special snowflake status". But ignoring or misrepresenting the needs of employers is not the way to get there.

Quote
Also, the "nuclear option" is leaving to go somewhere else. It costs companies plenty more money to hire and train someone than to retain a good employee. Most people are too goddamn scared to stand up for themselves, even if it means finding a new job. One of the benefits of being financially responsible and even a little savvy is to lose the fear of sudden job loss.

Let go of your fear. Unless you have a fantastic job you absolutely love that pays well above the competition, then keep your resume up to date, keep in touch with your network of industry contacts, etc... Just in case that day comes when your employer decides to be unreasonable. Not just that, but I have found in my career that if you do a really good job and volunteer for those somewhat shitty assignments when you have the time, your employer will be much more reasonable.

Don't be afraid to ask and especially do not be afraid to simply tell your employee what you are doing and force them to make the decision(IE: I've decided to spend the summer backpacking. I will be gone for two months, but I hope to return to this role in the fall. However, I understand if you cannot guarantee my job.) Now its no longer you asking them to tell its OK, its you asking them whether they want you to keep working there.

Agree 100%. They should teach this stuff in high school, along with personal finance. Maybe call the class #Adulting.

iris lily

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #30 on: February 23, 2017, 06:28:15 AM »
FIRE is the ultimate way to get your vacations.

Another option is self employment and contract work. Want 5 weeks vacation in February? Dont take on any work contracts during that period. Want three weeks off in June? Tell your clients you are unabailable then.

See, it isnt as though the structure does not exist to get OP what he/she wants. It does! Consultant, contract work, etc. use those tools! And even better, build companies that prioritize the work hours you would like to see standadized.

The freedom to craft your own life and business in these United States is pretty awesome. My DH went into busness for himself, partly due to extensive work hours at his company, and he greatly valued time off of his choice. He worked many long hours and didnt make as much money as when punching a time clock for someone else, but the self determined hours were gold.

This is precisely the false dichotomy that irks me. Want flexibility? Be your own boss! Don't want to be your own boss? You'll get as much flexibility as you can force the employer to give you, and not an inch more.

I don't want to be my own boss, although given the alternatives, it's gonna happen sooner or later. I'm more efficient working in a framework that others have already set up. There is no valid reason to force employees to work full time when they can support themselves and bring value to the organization by working less. It's just dogma.

To some extent, yes, the 40 hour work week is "dogma" or an arbitrary standard. And as I said, experimenting with less-than-40 hours a week is great, go for it! Either on your own, in a new and  flexible company with  new ideals, or pasting  together income streams.

When you say that ypu are "more efficient working in a framework that others have already set up" I have to say, umm, yeah. As are most people. I have seen many people in my social circle crash and burn in setting up their own busInesses. Most people find it easier just to get a traditional job where the employer takes all the risk and has the responsibility of meeting payroll.


Dusty Dog Ranch

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #31 on: February 24, 2017, 03:51:33 PM »
Thanks everyone for the interesting and diverse input. I am particularly intrigued by the idea of buying extra leave- I will have to explore this more.

Both of us really like our jobs and are highly valued by our employers, so I am hopeful that we'll be able to work something out. Part of why we want to go for a longer period of time at once is so we could do volunteer work and/or intensive language learning. Education is a valid reason for leave in our state, so it is possible that volunteer work may be also.

It looks like I can take up to 10 days of unpaid leave within a calendar month before it affects my benefits. That seems to be a threshold for many of the resources I looked at. "Cyclic leave" is another thing I found, which appears to be primarily for education jobs (though not just for teachers/professors), but not sure that would really apply to our situation.

Yes, what we are thinking about is not the norm, but hey, neither is this whole MMM thing, so what the heck. Might as well be intentional about what we want, see if we can get it, and if not, take the next step from there.

MoonLiteNite

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Re: Has anyone taken unpaid leave on an annual/regular basis?
« Reply #32 on: February 25, 2017, 02:40:30 AM »
I have never "taken" but more like "given"
I worked as a contractor, and due to ACA and other stupid laws my employee had to lay me off every year for 3 months to avoid paying me certain benefits, which i would have GLADLY declined if i could just keep working. Then they would re-hire me. So i basically had a 3 month break every year for 4 years.

Longest vacation request i have ever done was the one i put in last night. For a full month next year. I actually would love to make it an annual thing, i get enough vacation time to cover it :D