Special Report

7 Companies With Unlimited Vacation

Americans tend to work longer hours than in European countries and take very little time off — earning the country the nickname “no-vacation nation.” In fact, the United States is the only advanced economy that does not guarantee paid vacation or holidays. By contrast, France requires employers to provide 30 days of vacation, and China guarantees workers five days paid leave annually, a perk which improves over the course of one’s career.

Due in part to the absence of paid leave legislation, about one quarter of the U.S. workforce receives no paid vacation or paid holiday leave whatsoever. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed seven large companies with significant presences in the U.S. where workers are granted as much vacation as desired.

Click here to see the 7 companies with unlimited vacation.

The already relatively small amount of paid leave available is also underutilized by American workers. According to a recent analysis conducted by economic research organization Project Time Off, the average American allows around one-quarter of paid leave to expire at the end of the year. Further, according to another survey, even if offered unlimited vacation days, most American workers say they would not take any additional time off.

The long work week has become more common over the past several decades, although, the habit is more popular among particular classes of workers. According to the National Bureau of Economic Analysis, the percentage of workers usually working more than 50 hours per week increased from 14.7% in 1980 to 18.5% in 2001. The tendency grew more among highly educated, salaried, older men, and declined among the lowest earners.

The trend of working longer hours and taking short vacations is now changing once more as more workers are granted a greater degree of choice. For some of these companies the shift is part of a broad re-evaluation of corporate priorities. At GE (NYSE: GE), for example, management has recognized that that trusting employees rather than imposing rigid demands is empowering, leading to greater success.

Susan Peters, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at GE wrote in a letter to her employees explaining the change: “A 135+ year old company can only survive if it is constantly re-engineering not just its product portfolio, but its culture as well.” She added “The permissive approach … empowers employees to take the time they need when they need it, including time to relax and refresh.”

Most important perhaps is that employees granted this freedom tend to take around the same amount of vacation they would normally. And while the risk of workers taking advantage of the policy is still present, the benefit of unlimited vacation in most cases is available only to a portion of the company’s workforce. At General Electric, for example, only around 43% of the company’s salaried workforce is able to take advantage of the new program.

These are the companies offering unlimited vacation.

1. General Electric

General Electric employs roughly 305,000 people, 136,000 of which are in the United States — making the company one of the largest employers in the country. At the beginning of this year, GE began offering unlimited vacation as part of its benefits package, calling it a “permissive approach.” However, only a portion of the company’s workforce can enjoy this perk. The new policy is available to executives and workers who are part of its senior professional band — around 30,000 employees in the U.S., or about 43% of GE’s full-time salaried workforce.

2. Grant Thornton

Accounting firm Grant Thornton introduced its unlimited paid-time-off policy to its nearly 7,000 employees on November 1 of this year. As is the case with other companies pioneering the new worker relations strategy, Grant Thornton stated the move is in line with its belief in a culture of trust and empowerment. In other words, the company believes that if the vacations are planned properly and the work gets done, the unlimited vacation policy should not have a major impact on the bottom line. In fact, as is suggested in a company sponsored video, the enthusiasm shown for the policy may mean a happier, more productive workforce.

3. Grubhub

In 2013, two of the nation’s largest online delivery services, Grubhub (NYSE: GRUB) and Seamless, merged to form one company. Last April, the company went public with a $192 million IPO. The company provides an online service to help businesses optimize orders and deliveries. Beginning this year, the company is offering unlimited vacation to its full-time employees, in what it calls a flexible employment plan. Lindsey Ruthen, public relations associate at Grubhub told 24/7 Wall St. “GrubHub offers its employees an unlimited number of vacation, sick or personal days. We do so to encourage work/life balance, and because we trust our employees to deliver great results and choose how their time is spent.”

4. Netflix

Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) is one of the largest streaming networks worldwide, with more than 57 million members globally. Together, Netflix users consume more than 2 billion hours of movie and television content each month. In addition, a portion of the company’s members receive DVDs delivered by mail. As of the end of last year, Netflix employed 2,189 full-time workers. The company introduced unlimited vacation about a decade ago, telling The Wall Street Journal in 2004 it would focus instead on the work people accomplish rather than on how many hours or days they work.

5. LinkedIn

Headquartered in Silicon Valley, LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD) employs roughly 9,300 people throughout its 11 office locations worldwide. As of November 1 of this year, LinkedIn began offering its workforce discretionary time off (DTO), a model that sets no maximum or minimum on the amount of vacation time employees can take each year. The new approach is part of a larger campaign to cultivate a unique corporate culture. Currently, the company offers Hackdays designated for personal engineering projects and inDay, a monthly event during which employees dedicate their day’s work to any activity of personal interest.

6. Virgin Group

Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson announced in September 2014 he was scrapping a formal vacation policy in favor of one that allows employees to take paid leave “whenever they want for as long as they want.” The company policy affects some 160 employees who work in the company’s main offices in New York, London, Geneva, and Sydney. Branson was inspired to implement the change after reading about Netflix’s similar flexible approach to employee time-off. Virgin Group is the primary owner of a number of subsidiary companies, including Virgin Mobile, Virgin Hotels, and Virgin America airlines. Assuming the new policy works, Branson says he will implement similar vacation policies with Virgin Group’s subsidiaries.

7. Hubspot

Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, HubSpot (NYSE: HUBS) employs about 1,100 employees throughout its five locations worldwide. Founded in 2005, the company, which offers a cloud-based marketing and sales software platform, has more than 15,000 customers in over 90 different countries.

In January 2010, the company announced it would offer unlimited paid vacation for its employees. Hubspot’s founder and CEO, Brian Halligan, explained on the company’s website that his decision had been inspired in part by the hit AMC show Mad Men, saying he preferred to look to the future.

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