It sounds like a devil’s bargain: Trade in vacation days to pay off student loans. But that’s the exchange one company has settled on, and indebted employees are already planning to cash in.
At insurance company Unum Group, “employees get at least 28 days of paid time off,” according to Bloomberg. Meanwhile, its average employee is burdened by $32,000 of debt. So next year, Unum’s 8,500 staff will have the opportunity to opt for student loan relief in exchange for sacrificing days off.
Bloomberg reports that “each day is worth an employee’s hourly rate for an eight-hour day,” and Unum estimates workers who take advantage of the program will get $1,200 a year on average toward their loans.
“We thought it was a more creative method,” Carl Gagnon, assistant vice president of global financial well-being and retirement programs for Unum, told Bloomberg.
People dealing with their own student loans aren’t the only ones affected; parents who are partially responsible for their children’s debt can also participate.
Losing vacation days for loan relief may not seem like a win-win, but at Unum, the generous paid time off policy makes it more of a fair trade. Twenty-eight days of PTO — or more than five work weeks worth of time off — is far more than most workers in this country get, and already, a lot of Americans don’t use all of their PTO because they feel pressure to be at work or don’t have the money to afford travel. When they do use their days off, often times they regret how they were spent.
For Unum employees such as Jimmy Valentine, who has $22,000 in debt, the trade-in is worth it, especially when they are unlikely to use all their PTO anyway.
“I should take more days off,” Valentine told Bloomberg. “But I continue to work to make sure I keep up with everything.”