I really appreciate this post and its arguments certainly do carry some clear merits. However I think the diagnosis is somewhat wrong. The problems described seem to me to arise from a lack of structure or framework, not the result of an unlimited PTO policy.
Having unlimited PTO — per se — has nothing to do with how employees actually take and use time off, unless you just leave the “how” to anarchy and chaos. The problems this article surfaces about unlimited PTO really arise from having unlimited PTO and no clear guidelines about its use. Telling people “it’s up to you to figure out how to take time off” is a terrible practice and will lead to significant problems regardless of whether you have 2 days of time-off per year or 2 months.
I work at a company with “unlimited” PTO, however there are guidelines for use. Everyone must take at least 2 weeks of time off per year, and if they’re going to take more than 3 weeks off consecutively, they need to have a chat with their manager and HR because that’s our “leave of absence” boundary. People are indeed able to take a leave of absence (and several have) of a couple of months — without pay.
We use this framework to enable people to take the time off they need, while enabling us to both retain talent and protect the rest of the company. So far, it is working very well. We aren’t doing it to be “hip, cool, trendy,” etc., as alluded to by the author (which displays a certain degree of bias on their part), but rather because we feel it enables us to empower our people to be responsible for themselves, while providing a framework and structure within which they can have some basic guidelines.