“Starting next year, U.S. employees at insurance company Unum Group will have a choice: The company will put money toward their student loans, if the worker gives up five paid vacation days”.
Insurance company Unum has created a new program that offers a nuanced potential solution to employees with student debt. The choice is to give up at least 5 vacation days in exchange for their full 8-hour wage per day in student debt relief.
Any student loan repayment assistance from employers is better than nothing, and Unum may offer more vacation days than other companies. Further, with the $1.4 trillion in outstanding student debt and 44 million Americans holding one or more student loans, it’s time to seriously reconsider the way that companies support debt-laden employees.
If this type of program becomes more popular as student debt continues to rise, we may see more employees incentivized to skip out on already underutilized personal time. From a corporate point of view, this program makes sense both to address employee debt and also to keep people in the office. From an employee perspective however, this program encourages people to sacrifice needed time off in exchange for short term financial assistance.
The difference in perspectives between corporate structure and employee are evident in Bloomberg’s announcement article for Unum’s program. While one of Unum’s AVPs insists that employees get more than enough time off, an employee recognizes that he should take more time off, but he feels financially unable to do so.
There is no doubt that creativity is necessary to address America’s student debt problem, but relief is possible without employees giving up their free time in return. A voluntary benefit is one potential solution, allowing employees to set an amount of money they feel comfortable with per pay period to accelerate the paydown of their loans.