Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Leonid Bershidsky

Richard Branson's No-Vacation Policy

Offering workers unlimited vacation time, Netflix-style, is an invitation to take no time off at all.
Just try taking time off.
Just try taking time off.

There is probably nothing more meaningless and hypocritical in employer-employee relations than an "unlimited vacation policy" of the kind that billionaire Richard Branson has announced for his personal staff of 170. Though he cites Netflix's decision not to track vacation days as his inspiration, it is hardly the same thing, and it amounts to the total or partial abolition of paid holidays.

Netflix has never said that it offers unlimited vacation. The company's vice president responsible for the movie-streaming service's application programming interface, Daniel Jacobson, even had to explain that in his blog a year ago, because a lot of people were interested, just like Branson. The slides embedded in that post explain what Jacobson calls adult behavior: the company's policy is to trust people to get the job done in the way they see fit. "It's about effectiveness, not effort, even though effectiveness is harder to assess than effort," the policy says.