Unlimited Vacation and Other Forms of Guilt-Based Management
Johnathan Nightingale

It is interesting to see a north american point of view. I live in a nation where taking 4 weeks vacation is the norm. The legal minimum of days is 20 and most companies will offer more. I have 25 days but my husband has 40 (!) annually. Most people take at least 2 weeks in a row, but taking a whole month off isn’t unheard of. I think that if companies here implemented unlimited vacation time much more people would take up to 30 days a year without batting an eye. We even get 8% of our gross annual wage paid out in May or June and it’s called vacation money. The aim of the government was to stimulate people to go on vacation (though most people use it for a big purchase such as a new washingmachine or couch). In other words, taking time off is considered vital for good production output here.

Furthermore the rollover is completely standard here. I can take my extra 5 days with me if I don’t use them and the rollover is capped at 5 years. This means that if I know I am going on a long trip or have lots of weddings next year I will hoard some of my vacation days. I’ve never considered them as an option for extra pay if I leave because these days are taxed at 52% anyway so it’s financially not really all that interesting. Much nicer to have the time off than get paid out less than half.

What I am trying to say I guess is that these efforts and modern policies would work if a culture change is reached. If people in north america start realising that you are more productive, more innovative, more creative if you are properly rested. That travelling broadens the mind and that taking a long vacation in Bali or Europe could help you gain new insights, that it’s not just about getting cocktails with little umbrellas by the beach (even though those are super nice too). That taking a long holiday in summer when your kids are off is a way to bond with your children in a way that is much harder when you work during the week. No need even to go away, a staycation is also super nice (and saves on daycare). Take time off, discuss it with your direct peers, arrange for someone to cover for you and if someone thinks you are slacking off because you are leaving on vacation for 3 weeks well that’s their problem. You know you need to recharge, have time to yourself and with your family/friends. It will not make you a worse employee, it will make you a better one.

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