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Would You Offer Your Staff Unlimited Paid Holidays?

Godsend or Gimmick – We Review The Latest Employee Perk

Kathryn Webb
Kathryn Webb Worksmarter Team
In an age where the line between our professional and personal life is becoming less defined, businesses are always looking for innovative ways to attract, recruit and retain the most talented teams. 
One growing trend is the unlimited holiday policy – enhanced annual leave that promises the ultimate in freedom and flexibility but also raises eyebrows and potential alarms. 
Statutory Paid Holiday
Under current UK holiday entitlement rules, employees get 5.6 weeks’ statutory paid holiday a year, in proportion to the hours they work, which may or may not include public holidays. 
Legally, employers can’t offer less than the statutory minimum but can choose to offer more. 
Employees accrue holiday from the day they start working - even during a probationary period, if on sick leave, or when taking maternity/paternity/shared parental leave. 
What is Unlimited Holiday?
Unlimited holiday is a policy that allows staff to take as many or as few paid holiday days as they wish, within their leave year. 
The employer doesn’t set out any expectations of how much or little time off staff will take but some organisations stipulate that all leave must be approved by a manager. 
Companies that operate this policy say that, far from being a free-for-all, the arrangement operates under the expectation that staff remain responsible for their workload and need to maintain a clear line of communication with their team. 
Who's Offering Unlimited Holidays?
Prominent companies like Netflix, LinkedIn, and Goldman Sachs have hit the headlines for offering uncapped annual leave, alongside DropBox and HubSpot.  
One of the first UK companies to adopt this strategy was eCommerce agency Visualsoft back in 2014. Recently taking the plunge is cloud-based estate agency eX UK, who say they want their full-time employees to benefit from a working arrangement that operates on their own professional and personal terms. 
Benefits of Unlimited Holidays
The attraction of offering staff unlimited paid holidays is undeniable. 
By placing the focus on flexibility and responsible time management, companies signal a departure from traditional rigid structures and show they care about staff wellbeing. 
Staff feel that they’re being trusted to manage their time and workload independently, making it easier to take more ownership and responsibility over their output. Wellbeing and morale are boosted when they can better balance their professional and personal lives.
·      Allows a company to stand out from the pack.
·      Creates a magnet for attracting talent that helps them be more competitive when recruiting. 
·      Shows the organisation is modern, dynamic, and employee centric. 
·      Avoids the need for staff to justify every leave request and lets them take time off without stress.  
·      Promotes workers as independent and trusted professionals, with a stake in the business. 
·      Individualises work/life balance, allowing employees to experience more life choices without career penalties.
What Could go Wrong?
Offering this perk could potentially be counterproductive, with too much onus put directly on the employee. Having an open-ended policy may result in unfairness and disparity, placing more pressure on some team members.  
·      Business operations could be at risk if employees take excessive time off or choose to book their leave at peak times.
·      Small businesses may be particularly impacted by complications that arise from having less control over scheduling. 
·      A gap may emerge between those who can afford extended holidays and those who can't, creating disparity between staff.
·      Some employees may feel under more daily pressure in their role so not take enough time off.
·      Team morale can be affected when time off isn’t taken evenly, leaving others to cover work and take up the slack.
·      It can be more difficult for managers to deny holiday requests, even when this goes against the needs of the business. 
·      Without clear guidelines, it can be difficult for staff to assess how much leave is acceptable or even workable.
·      Without guidelines, employees may worry about feeling judged or how this might impact their career prospects.
Making it Work
Implementing an unlimited holiday policy is a delicate balancing act and requires effective communication between individual staff, teams and management. 
Tracking attendance data and performance will help employers understand and evaluate how the policy is working and ensure that all legal requirements are being met in terms of statutory leave. 
Establishing guidelines can help protect the business and encourage responsible use of the policy. These allow employers to set expectations, outline specific procedures that should be followed, and detail the business priorities that everyone should be working to. 
The Future
Could unlimited holidays be the future of workforce management, signalling a shift in how we perceive work-life balance…or a disaster waiting to happen? 
For some, implementing this policy would be difficult due to the nature and culture of their business. For sectors where people must be on-site, such as service and manufacturing, it simply wouldn’t work. Small businesses may also find it harder than those with a higher headcount. 
For companies considering moving to the ultimate in enhanced holiday policies, success lies in how well it’s implemented and requires careful thought and critical planning. 
Clear guidelines, robust communication channels, and an ingrained culture of trust will be vital in turning this innovative policy into a competitive strategy without sacrificing operational integrity.
Your Business
Has your business radically changed the game by offering staff unlimited paid holiday? We’d love to hear how it’s working out. Get in touch
WorkSmarter’s easy-to-use platform takes all the stress out of holiday management and gives your teams full visibility. Take a look or book a quick demo
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