The all-you-can-eat-no-tracking-but-watch-out-for-the-evil-eye vacation policies scare the bejesus out of me, because of the potential for (planned or unplanned) social pressure to never leave. It is like "Take as much salary as you want!" coupled with getting guilted for every $5 bill you took out of the drawer. "Whoa whoa whoa, $3,000 this month? Somebody's a big spender! Dude, you don't even have a family, what do you need $3,000 for!?"
This is how I feel about leave in academia. I can basically take as much leave as I want. But because there's no clear expectation of how much leave to actually take, there's this (totally implied) social pressure to never leave.
I kind of would much rather be at a place like this where they say "use your time off" and clearly signal this by either have "use it or lose it" policies or this kind of vacation bonus.
Incidentally, in Sweden vacation bonus (semestertillägg) is mandated by labor law. For each vacation day taken, you get something like an extra 1% of your monthly salary.
In addition, some companies here also allow you to take unpaid holidays if justified. Even with an additional of two weeks of unpaid holidays I would earn more money here in the US than in Austria (and the available jobs are much more interesting).
I personally need regular breaks. Irregular and really long breaks do less for me than regular breaks.
That might work for the kind of jobs HN posters work at, but the people who are most likely to have little or no vacation are probably also the ones that can't actually afford to be without a job even for a week (if they can find a new one).
Like so many other policies in the US, it works pretty well for the well-off, but keeps the working class toiling.
Even the staff on the lower "grades" get all of the above except for 25 instead of 30 days.
As in Sweden, 25 days is minimum paid vacation, not including public holidays.
I say pick a number that you think no productive employee should exceed. Make that the yearly number, and make sure everyone knows that they will be encouraged to take ALL their days. Make the days expire after a year, so people don't feel the need to "bank" days. Then, everyone knows where they stand in terms of how much vacation they "should' be taking.
For the record, If I were starting a company now, I would make the number of days in the aforementioned system start at 20, and then increase with seniority.
Plus, since the time to max out usually is quite long, it really penalizes people who switch jobs (which I guess is what you get when the vacation policies are set for the good of the employer as opposed to the employee).
They say what's considered reasonable in one of the rules. My personal take is that another 5 days more or less won't be that big of a deal. Combined with the last rule, you actually have a minimum--feel free to take off less than 25 days per year, but you won't get the 50% bonus in December.
In Australia most of us have 40 days per year that roll into the next year if you don't take them. There are options for employees to turn in some of their days for cash if they accrue a lot which is nice.
Err.. most of us have 4 working weeks of paid vacation per year. That's 20 days, not 40 (although it excludes paid sick leave - usually 10 days - and public holidays). Vacation leave usually rolls over, but sick leave varies. Public holidays don't.
(I'm Australian, and I've never seen variance on this except on the roll-over rules. The one exception is my current employer that offers an extra day off on your birthday)
*Means 'you can’t have a year off!' I'd report you in Australia if you abused that word here.
Don't apply buzz words to your own employees as they do not want to feel like a sale; especially if they live in a country where people have got burnt for 'Unlimited' (ISPs, Shared Hosting, etc). Be more clear: "You can have up to most of the year without much restrictions (We might need your help!)" etc.
Also, if you're a US worker and your employer is yelling at you for taking fewer than 5 weeks off, not including public holidays, you're in a pretty awesome situation.
At my next job there was an annual allotment of 3 weeks of vacation that accrued little by little every pay period. I was able to "borrow" time from the next year so that I could take my already-booked vacation. And, for the duration of that job, I maintained a negative vacation-time balance vowing to not get screwed again.
Unfortunately, whenever I hear of the "fantastic unlimited vacation time benefit," I can only view it as a way for the CEO to milk an extra month of work out of employees before laying them off at no cost.
The real challenge is in a larger company, where that assumption may not hold. Are there any existing examples of anywhere near as liberal a policy in such a company?
On the contary....
Most bigger companies are impersonal and see you as mere statistic and will not be so felixble as they would say" many other guys would take your job". So thats why such actualy fair holiday conditions seems weird.
But it leaves many questions unanswered. Is it paid holiday or not? I see there is a bonus for unused days, that seems to imply it is paid holiday.
The bonus scheme clearly is designed to wrap up so things don't carry over from year to year.
That does prevent someone from banking time to be able to take a 3 month sabbatical to write a book. Whether that would be permitted is not disclosed.
You read it wrong, there is a bonus for used days.
It sounds like you might work there? If so I have a couple questions for clarification, in addition to (1) clearing up that the £100 thing was just a random number and not representative (since some Chinese developers do make in that range, so it's not an impossible salary to claim). (2) Did "What’s normal for time off varies from country to country" mean that US employees of the company (for example) are expected to use less days than european ones? That the cut off for what is considered "unreasonable use" differs depending on company. (3) If the answer to that is yes, then are salaries matched to standard market rate in the economy each employee lives in? Are SF based employees paid 20 times as much as the guy in Bangladesh for the same work? (4) With a worldwide workforce, how does the company handle paying social insurance tax and providing for benefits in each country? Are competitive insurance plans offered, a different one for each employee? Or is there some insurance company that is able to provide insurance for all employees regardless of what country they are citizens of and resident in? Thanks for any clarification you can provide, these are all interesting subjects.
We figure that if we need to trust teams of people to make complex technical decisions and want to have people around who are basically programming artists... Well, then we should be able to trust those teams with managing their own time.
So far, no one has ever taken advantage of this.
Any time someone takes vacation their team is going to move a bit slower on the current project. Commitments should be built around vacation, not the other way around.
Why we know this isn't "crap".
Commitments are built around Vacation AND Vacations are built around commitments. It doesn't have to be an either/or proposition and here is why:
We apply Agile and the management aspect of our company uses Scrum. The teams are self-organizing. This even includes who is hired into the team and who is fired from the team. The team commits to an amount of work (it isn't forced on them by management).
This commitment process is very well defined in Scrum through the iteration planning meeting. If someone wants to take time off to go on vacation, then during the planning meeting (and hopefully they talked about it with their team members before), they let the team and product owner know at the start of the planning meeting (every team member, as Scrum requires, let's everyone know the number of hours they have available to commit directly to the current log).
In this case - Commitments are built around vacation.
On the other hand, the team has been given the authority and responsible of getting out potentially shippable product increments (a part of Scrum). The team, as a whole, has taken on this responsibility so, as a whole, must take that into consideration when taking time off.
In this case - Vacations are built around commitments.
Our approach to time-off and vacation aligns quite nicely with the Agile process and, in my opinion, is an other example of why Agile (and Scrum in this case) is such an amazing way to manage the production of software.
People have taken off time to go on Vacation and people just decide they want to have a 3 day weekend to visit their family, etc.
But no one, as of yet, has taken off an extended period.
More days of = more bonus, fewer days off = more bonus, or you always get the same bonus?