A recent trend in big-name companies such as Facebook, Google, and Yahoo is to offer unlimited leave to employees. Netflix has been making headlines with its latest announcement that employees will be allowed to take unlimited maternity and paternity leave in the first year after their child’s birth or adoption.
Netflix cites its own experience in support of the policy change, stating “people perform better at work when they’re not worrying about home” and noting that the policy “allows employees to be supported during the changes in their lives and return to work more focused and dedicated.”
Other employers have had issues with unlimited leave policies, including the British company Triggertrap. Triggertrap stopped tracking its employees’ days off in 2014 and ran into a problem. However, the problem wasn’t that employees were abusing the policy and taking too much time off; it was that they weren’t taking enough time off and ended the year resentful and burnt out. For 2015, Triggertrap came up with a new policy that still allows for unlimited time off, as long as it’s cleared with the rest of the employee’s team. They also encourage employees to take at least four weeks off per year by incentivizing employees with cash bonuses.
One article covering the Netflix story pointed out that in the early 2000s, employee perks at these companies came in the form of entertainment and food at work (ping-pong tables, video games, free coffee and lunch, etc.). Now, employees seek a better work-life balance over other perks and companies such as Netflix are responding accordingly.
While unlimited leave policies may not work at every employer and may result in issues such as those faced by Triggertrap, it’s encouraging to know that companies are exploring ways to support employees, especially after the birth or adoption of a child.
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