On the Money

Take all the time you need: The rise of 'unlimited vacations'

Take all the time you want

What if your boss said you could take all the vacation time you need?

Netflix, LinkedIn, Evernote and Pocket are among a small but growing number of companies offering workers flexible or discretionary paid time off. It sounds too good to be true, so is there really a limit to the "unlimited vacation" concept?

Rest assured, "no one is taking five months off," Gusto co-founder and CEO Josh Reeves told CNBC's "On the Money," in an interview.

Formerly ZenPayroll, Gusto is a software company that processes payroll and benefits for more than 25,000 small businesses. How much vacation does Gusto give its 300 employees? "We don't actually track the exact time, but it ends up being in the range of four to five weeks," Reeves said.

That's more days off than most workers get. According to an Oxford Economics study, Americans are taking off nearly a week less than they did 15 years ago. The study also found workers took an average of 16 days of vacation in 2013, compared to 20 days off from 1976 to 2000.

The idea behind unlimited paid time off is you can take vacation as long as your work is done, and your boss approves. Other companies explained how their policies work, and insisted that it didn't lend itself to abuse.

"It's not a free-for-all," said Ronda Scott of Evernote, the note-taking application start-up. She says its time-off policy is "based on conversations with direct managers in a 'take what you need' fashion."

Netflix told CNBC that because they "don't have a vacation policy" they "do not track time off." Marlee Tart explained that "It's part of our freedom and responsibility culture that we trust employees to balance doing a great job with having a balanced life."

And Kait Gaiss of Pocket, a Web page-saving app, says it has found its "unlimited vacation policy means people aren't spending time tracking their days, or worrying if they have enough time to take the vacation [or] break they need. They can just go."

Read MoreWhat industries reject vacation time the most

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