The arguments for and against unlimited holiday
As unlimited holidays become a more common occurrence across the UK, with the likes of Eventbrite and DropBox offering their teams unlimited paid time off, a discussion began in our office where it became clear two members of the team were clearly on very opposite sides of the fence on the issue. We asked them to write down their arguments so you could start to think about which side of the debate you fall under.
For – Matthew Heard, Legal Recruiter
It’s a no brainer for me - why would a firm NOT offer unlimited holidays? It is after all the ultimate flexible working option and a real testament to a firm’s commitment to a work/life balance.
By offering your staff unlimited paid leave, no matter their position or seniority, you are showcasing your trust in your employees and displaying how much you value every member of the team.
By affording your staff the luxury of unlimited holidays, you are also handing them back control of their workloads.
Unlimited holiday also means your staff are able to take what they need to perform best in their roles. Usually, holiday is used up by family commitments - sick children, family weddings, celebratory lunches - and so people are coming back to work having used all of their holidays but having not taken a break at all. Unlimited holiday means your staff may take an extra 5 days for a week away relaxing, but the value you’ll get in return when they get back refreshed and revitalised will be worth so much more.
Netflix’s former big boss Patty McCord was famed in the recruitment industry for saying she would ‘only tolerate fully formed adults’ and I couldn’t agree with that more. I have always spoken with clients about the troubles of micro-managing and that if you’re hiring the right person, they are responsible enough, capable enough and experienced enough to know how to manage and deliver their workload. I believe unlimited holidays are the same - you give the power back to the employee, and as a result, they are empowered to do their best and deliver the work, regardless, or perhaps because of, the fact they’re taking 35 days holiday a year.
And of course, what an incredible benefit that I can use for my clients to attract the top talent to their firm!
Against – Gabby Chinoy, Office and Finance Manager
The idea of unlimited holiday is brilliant, but the realities and logistics of it make my head hurt; that’s why I’m in the ‘no’ camp.
Here at LR Legal, we have an incredibly generous allowance of 28 days PLUS bank holidays, so we are already miles ahead of the national minimum requirements. perhaps that is influencing my thoughts, but it is already a struggle to get the team to take that! How do you manage employee wellbeing when ‘unlimited’ can also mean ‘untaken and no pressure to’?
Keeping with the psychology aspect, I genuinely believe that if there was ‘unlimited’ amount, people would still want a figure. People, for the majority, like their boundaries set, so by removing the number you run the risk of people not taking their holidays at all for fear of not having a reference point to know what is ‘acceptable’.
Then there’s the business logistics to think about. A culture that promotes unlimited holidays may result in team leaders being put in a difficult position. Should they need to say no because of business needs, it makes it slightly more personal to the person asking. But what are business leaders meant to do when they have client needs to meet, but a policy to adhere to. By offering unlimited holiday, the tools to put the business and clients first have been taken away.
And finally, how do you monitor, report on and manage the impact of an unlimited holiday policy? If you have someone abusing the policy, and someone who is suffering on the team as a result, how do you address it?
I think rather than unlimited holiday, maybe firms should focus on increasing the amount of days they offer, and review from there.
If you'd like to speak to our team about your firm's benefits, or if you're looking for a new role that offers better holiday perks, get in touch with our team.