Unum to let workers exchange PTO for student debt relief

In order to help some of its employees pay off their student debt, insurance giant Unum is offering a new, first-of-its-kind perk.

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Starting next year, the Tennessee-based company said workers can transfer paid time off (PTO) they carry over into a payment against student debt. It will all be managed by financial services provider Fidelity Investments.

“Many people face the challenge of balancing student debt with planning for their financial futures,” Carl Gagnon, assistant vice president of Global Financial Wellbeing and Retirement Programs at Unum, said in a statement.

Employees at Unum receive 28 days of PTO, including holidays and personal days when they first start, although additional time is available if they stay longer. Workers are only allowed to roll over five days of unused paid time, so they can only transfer up to 40 hours of their time to student debt.

Student loan debt in the U.S. climbed to an all-time high in the second quarter of 2018, reaching a staggering $1.53 trillion -- a burden that’s largely being borne by millennials.

The crisis has become a point of concern for many, including Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, who warned that burgeoning student loan debt could derail an otherwise-flourishing economy by hindering people’s “economic life” and hurting their credit ratings.

In fact, a survey from the NeighborWorks America revealed that 59 percent of millennials knew someone who delayed buying a home because of student loan debt.


“It’s great to see Unum take the lead as an innovator,” Ashwini Srikantiah, vice president of the Student Debt Program at Fidelity, said in a statement.