As Many Holidays As You Want - Branson Questions Strict Annual Leave Policies

In a recent blog post, Richard Branson, Virgin Group founder, has sparked a discussion on holiday entitlement, describing Netflix’s vacation policy of leaving employees in control of when and how long they go holiday as ‘one of the simplest and smartest initiatives I have heard of in a long time’.

The same policy, or non-policy (as both Branson and Pink, author of the original article on Netflix published in The Telegraph in 2010, refers to it), has now been introduced for the Virgin parent company in both the US and UK. And if all goes well, Virgin’s subsidiaries will be encouraged to adopt a similar approach.

Importantly, the focus on employee autonomy comes with an assumption - that holidays will only be taken ‘when they feel a hundred per cent comfortable that they and their team are up to date on every project and that their absence will not in any way damage the business – or, for that matter, their careers!’

The Right to Paid Leave

In the UK, workers have a statutory entitlement to 5.6 weeks paid holiday every year, and to receive pay for any leave due but not taken when employment ends. An employer retains a lot of control over holidays, in particular, when workers can take their leave. It is this element of control that Virgin and Netflix have delegated to their employees.

While it is an innovative approach that embraces new methods of flexible working, employers thinking of taking this leap forward and throwing ‘away the book on annual leave policies’, it is important to get legal advice on how this will impact existing and new employment contracts, as well as the employment relationship they have with their employees generally.

Employment Law Advice in Aberdeen

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