October 30, 2020

EY Changes Its Vacation Policy, Oh and BTW They’re Not Paying Out Accrued PTO If You “Leave”

In a nationwide email to staff today, EY announced that they’re tweaking their vacation policy. Although it’s framed as a switch to “flexible” time-off, the biggest change is that — excluding states in which this practice is illegal — the firm will not be paying out accrued PTO to individuals who leave or are fired counseled out due to performance and definitely not the ‘rona.

Our tipster writes:

EY just made big changes to the PTO policy starting 2021. Any accrued PTO as of 12/31 is forfeited and not paid out. Feels like a sneaky pay cut.

Indeed. According to this email that apparently made the rounds on Fishbowl over the weekend, the firm estimates the move will save $36 million per year “associated with paying unused vacation at termination.” The email goes on to say that “[s]ome of the key points above may not be shared with our people (e.g. $36M savings), but as business leaders I want you to know that this is a significant reason for the change.” Well so much for keeping that secret.

But hey, they’re generously giving everyone 19 holidays!

Despite what the leaked email clearly states, one staff-facing reason given for the change is that it’s hard to track time taken according to a tipster.  “That’s actually the fault of their own shit tracking system that takes FOREVER to update if you’re lucky enough for it to update at all.”

You’ll also note that EY believes this updated policy will somehow give them an advantage on campus, likely because “unlimited vacation” sounds way better to potential new hires and interns than “if you get canned, you’re not getting accrued PTO lol.” It will be interesting to see if other firms follow their lead.

This news comes after the “lay-offs but not lay-offs” debacle in late September.

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49 Comments

  1. > excluding states in which this practice is illegal

    I’m in a state where this just went live 1 July. I’m not big on gov’t intervention in things but thank goodness for this protection.

    > a switch to “flexible” time-off

    Yeah… huge corporate scam in America. 1. Companies take PTO as an expense off the books. 2. They pay out even less PTO than before as people are afraid of taking days off given how it is perceived by peers.

    1. Can I cuss? Can I say fuck EY for this? Gaslighting assholes trying to pass this off as our own idea. Did you hear about the video they introduced it with? “We heard you, so we’re making changes!” Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuck you.

      1. I literally turned off the video after she said that line. Didnt continue and havent finished it yet.

    2. “ I’m not big on gov’t intervention in things but thank goodness for this protection.” … most republicans when it comes to regulations that help them …

  2. I took a second look at the EY email…

    In the list explanations for moving from accrual based to unlimited PTO, did anyone notice this:

    “eliminates entitlement mentality…”

    WTF? Wanting to take a benefit you earned (or was promised as a part of compensation) is being “entitled”?

    WOW!

    1. I just left a non-Big 4 firm who offered this unlimited PTO. The amount of time off was decided by the manager. Pets got unlimited, worker bees got none. I only had a week off in 2019 due to “client commitments” and one day in 2020 before I said enough is enough. Out of public accounting now – no regrets.

  3. Just $36m? Think of the millions EY will save on vacation pay overall … all those partner-track up-or-out folks who won’t ask for that extra week. I guess they didn’t want to lead the video with “We want you to stay healthy as long as you make the business case for it.”

  4. That leaked email has destroyed the credibility of firm leadership. I dont see how they can argue this is in our best interest when clearly its about saving money and wiping the liability off the balance sheet. I’m so sorry employees have an “entitlement mentality” about vacation hours they’ve earned

  5. I hope a big news sources picks this up. They need to be forced to acknowledge what was said in that email. So fucked up.

  6. This is also happening at Wipfli effective 1/1. Though they’re “graciously” paying out 40 hours out of a max 240.

  7. Wow. EY keeps fucking up. This should be forwarded to the financial publications. Keep trying to promote this image of being people-first, but then they do this shit.

  8. If I was an E&Y staffer or manager right now, I would seriously consider consulting a doctor about “stress” and “nervous feelings” that are making it hard for me to function on a daily basis, to the point that maybe I have to go on medical leave or maybe file a disability claim …

    P.S. Or I could have unexplained backaches that might lead to same conclusion.

  9. Happend to senior-level and above at the large California-based firm I am at. Since it’s California, we graciously(sarcasm) get to keep our already-accrued balance but when we take a PTO day then it gets used up first and then we switch to unlimited once that’s all used up. We had no option to get paid out. This apparently still fell well within the California rules but we’re still getting shafted

  10. It’s been that way for years at Optum/Unitedhealth Group, they don’t look at PTO as a benefit so if you leave it’s left on the books and once you give your notice your not supposed to use your own PTO anymore.

  11. As a member of the big 4 that is not EY, it’s only a matter of time before we adopt this policy as well. My question to you is this… Who deems what is a “responsible” amount of time? And how long is a “responsible” amount of time off???

    1. @NotAconcernedKPMGer

      > Who deems what is a “responsible” amount of time?
      > And how long is a “responsible” amount of time off???

      That is EXACTLY why unlimited PTO is such a scam. Because since few companies actually answer those questions, people take even less vacation out of fears of how they will be perceived.

      Heck, we get 23 days of PTO and I’ve been able to use 1 of them this calendar year. I’m dreading when accrued PTO goes away for this unlimited rubbish.

  12. Deloitte has this policy already since 2020, at least in Singapore… And you know what? Surprise surprise, you dont get approved any vacation above the 2 weeks that are mandatory by law. In other words, flexileave is exploitleave.

  13. GT also has an “unlimited” FTO policy. They use this as a huge selling point for new hires, but in reality you need to jump through hoops to get approval and it is just to save the company from accruing a huge liability on their financials.

  14. I had 150+ hours accrued this year that I finally “used” because I was benched for a while due to COVID. Nobody’s taking vacation right now so it’s piling up for everybody, and they’re laying off… sorry, letting people go for “performance” issues without being on a plan.

    At this point, myself and other coworkers are considering this the point where we have three months until we find a new job. Cash out before you’re SOL.

  15. Wow, these comments are interesting.
    I worked at this firm when we got 6 holidays. No carryover on vacation time.
    Be grateful for what you have and stop talking poorly about the firm that is paying your salary.

    1. Spoken like a true comrade. I see you enjoy letting yourself get stepped on in your career and job – some day maybe you’ll figure out your worth.

    2. You say this as if the firm is giving away salary for nothing out of the kindness of their hearts. Salary and benefits are a business transaction.

      Firms are the ones that need staff, not the other way around — plenty of numbers to crunch elsewhere if firms want to work staff down to little nubs with increasingly less benefit for said staff.

    3. Marie Peters, right? It’s just a small change. People should be grateful all their partners will still get their huge salaries/distributions, AND the retired partners will still receive comfort they get their massive pensions.

  16. To all the fellow EYers out there.

    Make sure your accrual is reversed through BS only, not through a P&L benefit.

    Use up your balance by year-end.

  17. What do all of us business consultants expect from business consultancy firms? Walking the talk by a for profit company which gives advice to other companies on how to save money through varied means, so it might make sense from business standpoint

    I am in two minds, guessing people are misusing accruals by not taking PTO and continuing accruals when they are on beach, At same time utilization goals hamper taking PTO or longer PTOs (which is more of company issue). Other reason people fear taking PTO is for emergencies, if they utilize most of their PTO now what is there to take when they really need it (that’s where unlimited PTO might help). However further restrictions from management and leadership on unnecessary approvals for longer PTOs (is 2 weeks really long) as well as sometimes putting additional eligibility verbiage of ‘high performing’ individuals further add to hurdles of employees taking unlimited PTO.

  18. This is a common practice at a lot of tech companies in the Bay area – not really a radical idea here.

    1. But it’s actually possible to take vacation once you are out of big 4 that’s not a fair comparison to say unlimited pto is not a radical idea. Vacation is part of the compensation package. Do you really think all the auditors get to take these 19 holidays off?? EY as any professional service firm it’s always client service first, if the clients are not off ey people are not off. Do you think all the auditors get 12/31 off? And MLK? That’s still busy season! I would have more respect if ey just come out to say this is to cut costs in a difficult COVID climate and ask for everyone’s support versus spinning this as promoting flexibility and gives ey an cutting edge in recruiting. This is truly disappointing

  19. EY has lost all credibility at this point:

    1) Telling us we are not getting raises or bonuses because revenue is flat, even though we later found that revenue grew 4%+.
    2) Telling us that there will be NO covid-based layoffs, only performance-based layoffs, eve though we later discovered employees were being laid-off for reasons unrelated to performance.
    3) Telling us they changed from PTO to unlimited PTO because “We heard you.” even though this leaked email very evidently shows that this decision was made with little to no regard to employees.
    4) Indicating that the first-year CPA bonus eligibility period will be extended due to STATE GOVERNMENT shutting down testing facilities leaving staff with the inability to even test and subsequently reneging on this commitment without notifying any of the staff that there was a change in this decision.

    The lies are piling up. The utter hypocrisy of asking employees to take ownership and responsibility for the commitments they make and not holding yourself to the same standard is shocking at this point. Why should we remain loyal when you have shafted your employees in every single way you possibly could.

      1. Yes, while this was not announced nationally, when testing centers started closing a number of first-year’s emailed the CPA Licensing Team directly to voice their concerns about being physically unable to sit for their last couple of exams before the 1-year deadline. The response they received was that there would be an extension but that no specifics could be provided since the decision had not been finalized. There was no subsequent follow-up or correction of the previous statement when they ultimately decided not to extend. Maybe they shouldn’t have believed it since the decision was not “finalized” but this seemed like a very misleading move.

  20. can’t wait for all the unassigned Staff & Seniors to take PTO, as soon as they know they’re unassigned, so there’s never any resources available on demand.

  21. I’m in California, where state law means they can’t erase my accumulated PTO hours at the end of 2020. However, they’ve already pointed out that this PTO won’t be paid out even in California – unless I leave the firm.

    Does that mean if I stay with the firm until my retirement in 7-9 years, my accrued PTO will just sit there all that time? Unable to be cashed out? Not earning interest? A benefit I earned in 2019-2020 unavailable to me all that time?

    1. No it is worse. If you have 25 days, and take 15 next year and 10 the next then your 25 are gone and you just sit in the “unlimited pool” from that point forward.

  22. Graduating Students, when you don’t fit in Google, Apple, Microsoft with your technical skills or are financially not well connected to buy your BMW, Mercedes, WRZ, Big 4 is the place to join. Only .1% will make it to the top. If you are not business savvy and cannot work 24/7

  23. GT implemented a FTO policy a few years ago and presented it the same way, like it was going to improve work life balance. It had the opposite effect with people taking less time than they took before. It’s just human nature that if you have a bank of 20-25 days each year you are going to use them up whereas with an FTO model you aren’t really thinking about taking time unless you have an actual vacation planned, plus you start to think about how it’s going to impact your utilization % compared to your peers who likewise are not taking as much time off. The primary reason they did this is clearly so that they don’t have to make a payout for unused time when you leave the firm, so essentially a backdoor pay cut, pure and simple.

  24. Been with EY for over a decade now and the cost cutting measures they have put in over the last couple of years are truly shortsighted and disappointing. Started with reducing the reimbursement for cellphones, then Amex cards for frequent travelers, then changing the pension fund/ policy and now this. Never really considered leaving the firm but for the last few months I have started actively looking for different opportunities outside of EY given the decay of the people first policy that I used to love, advocate and defend. Unfortunately now when someone bashes EY, can’t really be a Fox News host

  25. They are listening to us, I asked for a raise and a bonus. If they wanted to be fair they would have announced the date to be effective in a year. Or pay us for the time that we are losing!!!

    In stead they tell us with 10 weeks to go for the year … not fair!!!

    Stupid decisions can be changed… it seems like an unfair labor practice!!!

    1. They now say that they will invest on those who stay not those that leave. Does upper management they actually believe what they say?

      They hire smart people that they obviously think are stupid.

      Management does not know how to manage a crisis, EY should hire professional managers or consultants as their management does not have a CLUE!!

      It is not to late to do the right thing!!!

  26. When I left EY I got basically an extra paycheck full of PTO. It soothed the pain a bit from all the PTO I wasn’t able to take when I worked there, which – not gonna lie – was part of the reason I left.

    If I hadn’t had that extra paycheck …. well, I still would have left and I would have been okay, but I would have been significantly angrier than I already was.

  27. It’s Ok EY, even the baby boomers that have traditionally viewed EY in high regard are starting to understand times have changed now.

    Either you give a dam about your people or you don’t. What you DON’T get to do is act like you do when all your actions point to the contrary.

    Again, don’t count on your reputation of yesteryear to save you.

    When you start shedding the $$$$ big in the coming years don’t say you weren’t warned…

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