Are you giving your employees paid time off…to protest?
(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)
Survey after survey shows that many employees, particularly those in the millennial (18–34) age group, desire more flexibility, mobility and independence. Which is why companies are rushing to update their vacation and sick day policies and even go so far as to include paid time off for pet bereavement, “unsick days”…and political protests, of course.
Wait…political protests? Isn’t that a little dicey? Not to some companies in Silicon Valley. Take Facebook, for example.
On May 1, people will be getting together nationwide to protest the current administration’s immigration policies. Many in the tech industry oppose these policies because they may limit their potential talent pool. o Facebook is telling its employees that, if they so desire, they can take the day off…fully paid…and go to the protest. Facebook’s not the only company doing this. Google recently announced similar plans.
It’s not just the big companies that are allowing their employees to get paid to protest. As reported in the Christian Science Monitor, a San Francisco start-up called Buoyant allows its employees to take paid time off to “participate in civic activities,” and protests are a part of that.
Amna Pervez, director of recruiting at Fauna, another San Francisco start-up that offers a similar policy, told the Christian Science Monitor “…we’re providing [our employees] a platform and opportunity — without professional consequences — to participate and express themselves in whatever way is going to make the most meaningful impact.”
Justin Gest, an assistant professor of public policy at George Mason University in Washington told the publication there’s nothing wrong with allowing people to do this, “as long as the company isn’t advocating how employees use that time.”
Some critics fear that companies, particularly ones in Silicon Valley that tend to be left-leaning, are just pushing their anti-conservative agenda. “Would this have been permitted if people had wanted to protest against Obamacare?” asked Matthew Del Carlo, chair of the California Young Republican Federation, in the Monitor story. “Will tech companies allow conservative thought and conservative protests to occur? [If not], it could have a really chilling effect on having a diverse environment.”
Del Carlo is concerned that employers may be suggesting causes for their employees to support–and potentially frowning on those who protest in support of an opposing agenda. It does seem a little dicey–and a paid time off variant that I wouldn’t want to test in my company. What about yours?