Is unlimited vacation the way to workers’ hearts?

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Virgin boss Richard Branson has taken the radical step of throwing out all the vacation rules for his employees.

Virgin staff will be able to take time off when and as often as they want under the new “policy-that-isn’t,” Branson said. No warning needs to be given, and managers won’t be asked or expected to keep track of days off.

"It is left to the employee alone to decide if and when he or she feels like taking a few hours, a day, a week or a month off, the assumption being that they are only going to do it when they feel a hundred percent comfortable that they and their team are up to date on every project and that their absence will not in any way damage the business - or, for that matter, their careers," Branson wrote on his blog.

He was inspired after reading about a similar strategy introduced by the video streaming giant Netflix, which had been a marked success.

"The Netflix initiative had been driven by a growing groundswell of employees asking about how their new technology-controlled time on the job (working at all kinds of hours at home and/or everywhere they receive a business text or email) could be reconciled with the company's old-fashioned time-off policy," he said.

"We should focus on what people get done, not on how many hours or days worked. Just as we don't have a nine-to-five policy, we don't need a vacation policy.”
  • Ella on 2014-09-25 12:39:39 PM

    Okay I am the first to scream YAH! to unlimited holidays HOWEVER how many time have you gone on a vacation where your co-workers picked up the slack - I am not sure if there is ever a time that is good to leave a job for vacation - stuff always comes up and in most cases co-workers deal with it - would this be the case at Virgin? I don't know

  • mike on 2014-09-25 1:35:15 PM

    Love the idea, but it only works if you have a performance culture, with clear measurables

    Ella I think employees would be more likely to cover for each other in this environment.

  • Asha on 2014-09-26 3:17:43 PM

    This depends on the industry you work in and if there are inequities in workloads and deadlines etc , it will never work. Also how do you measure the fairness and the employment laws if someone is off for maternity, sick, leave of absence etc ? Termination and vacation pay for years of service etc ??

  • Rene Harvey on 2014-09-29 1:54:15 PM

    I think performance/merit-based vacation/paid time off incentives would work better. I for one would love to earn more vacation based on measurable extra effort put in.

  • George Kralidis on 2014-09-30 1:25:04 PM

    This is really "smoke in mirrors" (implementing something employees will never be able to take full advantage of).

    Even with set vacation entitlements employees have a difficult time taking all of their vacation due to workload. I doubt implementing an open, flexible vacation policy like Branson has will make a difference. Work will always get in the way of taking vacation. That's why millions of vacation days each year are not taken and lost. A better gesture perhaps would have been for the business and managers to somehow create the conditions whereby employees are able to take full advantage of the time they are already currently given. My two cents for what it's worth

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