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Unlimited Paid Vacation at Netflix

August 25, 2010

If you work for Netflix, you have no allotment of vacation days – if you need/want a vacation, you can go.  Just make sure your work is covered and your manager knows where you are at.

For someone who spent hours this year pouring over my vacation allotment and trying to stretch it to cover my own wedding, a honeymoon, short hiking trips, and other obligations (weddings and holidays), this sounds like a dream come true.

Honestly, I find it wildly unfair that senior people with the company get SO MUCH more vacation time than us younger workers.  I’m not saying they haven’t earned some amount of extra vacation.  Still, it feels like a dagger in my heart every time I get an email that says something like “and I’ll be out Friday so I don’t go over the maximum vacation allowed.”  I even wrote something in my employee survey about how the vacation policy was not at the top of the industry and an update would do a lot for the work-life balance of the younger employees.  Not that I expect them to take action on it, but hey, they asked my opinion!  And yes, it really would make a difference if I had the luxury of choosing between jobs!

Let me add that it isn’t about avoiding work.  I prefer to be busy and engaged, I don’t mind occasional long weeks and days, and I’m excited about the work I’m doing.  From the article:

The idea is that freedom and responsibility actually go together quite well

Exactly.  I’ll earn the responsibility, but I’d also like to earn a bit more freedom!

My company would never adopt such a policy, but it is still food for thought. What do you think of this idea?  Would your company ever do something like this?

15 Comments leave one →
  1. tom permalink
    August 25, 2010 7:45 am

    I think the company might adopt something more flexible. They already started by offering up front vacation to new hires, instead of having to earn it. It’ll be a slow process, but as all the boomers retire and we start taking over, things will change.

    I think Netflix has the luxury of enacting flexible and “alternative” policies like this because they only have 2000 employees. It’s very easy to identify abusers. Bring that number up to 160K, and it gets a little tougher.

    • SP permalink*
      August 25, 2010 8:33 am

      Yeah, I agree it isn’t as realistic for very large companies. I really do appreciate the moderate flex time and such, and I think you are right about things changing eventually, slowly (as usual!).

  2. August 25, 2010 7:50 am

    I think a lot of this has to do with corporate culture. I love the idea, but obviously it’s something that can’t be taken lightly. I feel like I would have to work a lot harder than 40 hrs/week to “earn” all that vacation. I hope people also don’t abuse the system, but I’m sure Netflix monitors it.

    My company low-balls most people (non-manager, non-senior) in terms of salary…but our benefits are really great. I get 3 weeks of vacation per year plus 5 sick days. And after 7 yrs with the company, I’m eligible for a 6-week sabbatical! Hopefully I make it that long here 🙂 Good for you for speaking up about the vacation policy at your work, especially since they asked.

    • SP permalink*
      August 25, 2010 8:37 am

      Oddly, i have hugely generous sick leave, which isn’t very useful unless it happens to be a year where you get sick a lot (doesn’t really happen to me often). Our benefits are quite good, with the exception (in my opinion) of vacation days.

      I think you make a good point about working harder to “earn” vacation. I think that is the idea. When you have an allotment, you feel almost entitled to your 10 or 15 or whatever days. When they say “it’s up to you” and you want to leave for 2 weeks, you are going to work really hard to be sure that you don’t cause anyone issues!

      I wish we had sabbaticals! I’ve been quietly contemplating how I can make one work at some point in my career (before i have kids!), but it would almost surely be unpaid if I can make it work at all.

  3. Sara permalink
    August 25, 2010 7:57 am

    I work for the largest employer in California – you betta believe they LOVE their POLICIES and this one would definitely not work. I sure wish it was the case. In fact I’d love to just work 10 hours a day/4 days a week but even that wouldn’t fly!

  4. August 25, 2010 9:45 am

    I’d be much more productive if I had unlimited vacation time – only because I know I won’t be counting down the days until I can take off. And I agree with previous comments about how one would actually work harder to earn vacation. I mean, if you decide to take days off every month, you better be working hard!

    I get two weeks paid vacation, 5 sick days, and 4 personal days. During the summer I get to pick four Fridays that I want to take off. I also get national holidays off, and the day before a national holiday is usually a half day. I can’t really complain because I get lots of time off 🙂

  5. August 25, 2010 9:53 am

    We have something like this – at least I do, not all departments do. I have official hours, but my schedule is also flexible so I basically can take off whenever I feel like it as long as my tasks get done on time. Even after a 2 week honeymoon (which I officially used hours for), and several week vacations this year I still have close to 100 hours left of vacation time. And I’ve taken many flex days off without logging the vacation time. I LOVE IT.

  6. Pam permalink
    August 25, 2010 12:42 pm

    You may be getting those “use or lose” e-mails because they never take vacation. I know many of the senior employees (of whom I am not one!)at my company get in those situations because they can never actually get away from the office. Just food for thought.

    • SP permalink*
      August 25, 2010 1:38 pm

      I agree, it is definitely a combination of both, otherwise they’d just be gone more! But i also know how much time off they get, and it’s way more than i do.

      I am being a bit of a whiner. As fair as total paid time off, we get a fair amount and it isn’t horrible. It’s just a full week less than my last job, and it is a really hard adjustment to make!

  7. August 25, 2010 3:53 pm

    In NZ, we are legally entitled to four weeks (which is more than fair – add in public holidays and it’s quite a lot of time off IMO).

    We get 5 sick days a year though, which isn’t much. You also have to have been at the company for six months. A few workmates have been stung – falling ill within that first six months and having to take unpaid time off because they hadn’t “earned” their sick time yet. Lameo.

  8. August 25, 2010 4:52 pm

    I posted the article link to my FB and lots of my co-workers (who actually work for the client and not for the company I am employed by) came to me and complained of their company’s vacation policy. They get around 2 hours of time off per week but those hours are also used for sick and personal days. If they go over their allotment, they have to take unpaid leave. One individual had back surgery and was out recovering for two weeks. One of those weeks was unpaid because she had used up all her time off on the first week. That’s ridiculous I think.

  9. Bonnie permalink
    September 1, 2010 10:18 am

    I’d love to have the Netflix policy. That said, I get 4 weeks of vacation plus 3 personal days and 12 sick days (and we get to leave early the days before holidays, and we’re off the day after Thanksgiving, which not all places do), which is good. I had to work here for 8 years to get the 4 weeks, though (and I’d have to be here 15 years to get bumped up to 5, I believe). Still, it’s nice.

  10. Bonnie permalink
    September 1, 2010 10:19 am

    I’d love to have the Netflix policy. That said, I get 4 weeks of vacation plus 3 personal days and 12 sick days (and we get to leave early the days before holidays, and we’re off the day after Thanksgiving, which not all places do), which is good. I had to work here for 8 years to get the 4 weeks, though (and I’d have to be here 15 years to get bumped up to 5, I believe). Still, it’s nice. I’d really rather have some sort of work-from-home setup, though. That’s what I always put on the employee opinion surveys!


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