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Too good to be true? LinkedIn becomes latest to offer unlimited vacation days

It’s an increasingly popular vacation policy among companies and LinkedIn recently became the latest company to jump on the trend.

The social networking site, which already features free lunches, ping-pong tables and open workspaces for its employees, now offers an open-ended vacation policy called “discretionary time off.” That means employees no longer have a minimum or maximum amount of vacation time.

The concept is intended to help employees stay engaged, reduce burnout and is “part of a growing movement to place more focus on results and empowerment, not hours worked,” said LinkedIn Vice President Pat Wadors in a blog post.

LinkedIn joins several other well-known companies that adopted a DTO policy, including Netflix, Virgin and Groupon.

Douglas Merrill, chief executive and founder of ZestFinance, said the company has always given employees unlimited vacation.

"If we were to track it, in some sense, we'd be sending a message that, 'Oh, hey, it really isn't unlimited. We really don't want you to take all that. Come back,'" he said.

Unlimited vacation may not make a huge difference for many workers. According to one widely-reported study, American employees only take 51 percent of their eligible time off anyway.

"As much as they hear they get unlimited vacation, in the back of their minds they think, wait a minute, if the economy turns, I don't want to be seen as not a team player, so I'm not going to take my vacation," explained Bob Rosner of Workplace911.

Some companies, like Kickstarter, tried unlimited vacation before ultimately pulling the policy because employees were unsure how much time was OK to take off.

That’s why Merrill says it’s important for bosses to lead by example.

“I try to model that behavior both by taking vacation and by, if you're on vacation and email me, I will never answer you,” he said.

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