Infinite Vacation? What About a Mandatory Pre-cation?

Back in the days when I was doing the office job routine, I remember reading something about how you should try to stagger your jobs so that you have a week of (unpaid) time off between the end date of your last job and the start date of your next job — because when else are you going to have “no responsibilities” and time for a vacation?

Some companies are taking that advice to heart, and insisting their new hires take a mandatory paid “pre-cation” before starting work.

Slate describes San Franscisco real estate search engine company 42Floors, and what happened when CEO Jason Freedman implemented the pre-cation policy:

Freedman decided to begin offering pre-cations to all his new hires. “The day they get their offer letter, it’s kind of like Christmas morning, in that they have a new job and they’ve already thought through the vacation they’re about to go on. We have a guy who’s about to start next week, and he’s in Thailand right now. It’s like, ‘Yeah, have a great time! And when you get back here, work your ass off.’ ”

The difference between a pre-cation and a regular vacation is, of course, the lack of responsibility. You’re not leaving other team members in the lurch because they’re not your team members yet. You don’t have a company email inbox that’s stacking up with unread messages, and you don’t have to take your job on vacation with you because, well, your job hasn’t started.

I’m all for the pre-cation idea. However, as Slate notes, you might have a hard time finding a job with pre-cation as a benefit:

It would probably be premature to call the “pre-cation” a trend. While there are probably a few others out there, Atlassian and 42Floors are the only companies I could find that offer it, and both say that they came up with the idea independently; neither had heard of any others offering the same perk.

Software company Atlassian, by the way, not only gives its new hires travel vouchers, it also offers unlimited vacation after you get back from your pre-vacation travel. Slate lists additional perks:

After five years of service, employees are asked to take another break and given $3,000 toward the vacation of their dreams. And instead of end-of-year cash bonuses, top performers get personalized packages delivered to their houses. The packages include fancy chocolates, confetti poppers, bottles of Champagne, and a hand-written letter from a superior about what makes the employee so valuable. Oh, and they come with grants of equity in the company.

Okay, now I am tempted to switch jobs. But only if I get those first two weeks off.

Photo: Darren Johnson