December 11, 2015

Unlimited Holiday – Not Just a Dream

This post was written by: Ilinca Mardarescu

unlimited holidays not just a dream

There is a new innovative policy that simultaneously increases productivity and employee loyalty. A policy adopted by Silicon Valley tech companies, Virgin and now East Anglian law firms. The policy is ‘unlimited holiday’. It scraps annual leave allowances and lets employees take as much holiday as they need/want. It requires notice to be given before holidays are taken but encourages employees not to take time off when it would be detrimental to the overall running of the company.

Ashton KCJ, an East Anglian law firm, started a test run of this policy in February of 2015 before confirming that it would become permanent. The chief executive Edward O’Rourke claimed staff productivity had increased during the trial period compared to the same time in the previous year. He argued law firms of the future must strive to be innovative “both in the way they attract and retain legal talent and in the way in which they meet the clients’ needs”.

WANdisco, a Sheffield and Silicon Valley based software company introduced unlimited paid holidays over a year ago. Their CEO David Richards argued “they’re very committed anyway, so why do you need to restrict the amount of time they can take off?”. Interestingly the previous holiday allowance at WANdisco was 28 days while the average time now taken off is just 16 days.

Visualsoft, a Newcastle based e-Commerce provider, was shortlisted for three accolades at the Employee Engagement Awards. The awards recognise firms that facilitate increasing employee productivity and well-being.  The firm, as well as providing unlimited holidays, supplies free breakfasts and have a ‘break out room’ with pool tables and ping pong courts.

There is a strong and convincing argument backed with compelling evidence that suggests that this new, more relaxed style of holiday leave facilitates increasing productivity for a firm. If a firm has a skilled workforce then its primary focus must be on retaining said workforce and keeping them productive. This innovative scheme seemingly does just that.

However, there are some perceived drawbacks of ‘unlimited holidays’. There is an inherent risk that employees may take advantage of the system. What’s to stop them taking an extra Monday off?  For employers an ‘unlimited holiday’ system can make dismissing an employee increasingly difficult. The employer will have little justification to fire an employee for taking too much holiday when it is fundamentally ‘unlimited’.  The whole scheme is underpinned by a mutual trust between employer and employee but this trust can easily be broken.

Would you consider offering unlimited holiday to your employees?  Tell us what you think! For all your employment law needs please don’t hesitate to contact us.