Have you ever wondered why Americans don’t have passports? Well, me neither but now I know… In America, no employer is legally obliged to give their employees paid annual leave. So, unless employees are well-off or fortunate enough to have an employer that grants this amount of days, they can’t go on holidays (vacations!). This is a startling observation and one that has left me, somebody who is desperate to live in America, feeling a little cold. I have a job I enjoy but when I didn’t, the only thing that got me out of bed in the morning was knowing that I had some holiday time booked up. Even now, I try to keep my holidays in mind when I’m having a particularly hard day at work.
So for me, the news about America’s employment laws leaves me with one question… How low is morale overall?
Time away from work is good for both physical and mental health. It is extremely beneficial to employees but of course that means that overall, it’s extremely beneficial to employers. If an employee is feeling both mentally and physically sound, they’re more likely to be productive and an asset to the company they’re working for.
Recently, Richard Branson announced that he’s letting employees take as much holiday time as they’d like. In contrast to the standard American employment laws, this is a breath of fresh air. It seems far more humane, up-to-date and far more fair. But is it?
I don’t want to accuse Mr Branson of reverse psychology or anything along those lines because I’m sure this was a rule brought in to improve employee’s wellbeing and of course, it’s been brought in with a level of trust. He’s trusting employees to take the holidays they need without taking advantage of him or his company. On paper, this is fantastic and something that all employers should aspire to but in reality, and maybe it’s just me, I’d be pretty nervous about requesting time off.
The one thing about having annual leave is knowing where you stand with it. If you get 24 days a year and you’ve taken 21, you have 3 days left. Pretty simple stuff . If you have an unlimited amount of days off, to take at your own convenience, you may be left a little nervous about taking more than the statuary amount. You may even fear being judged by your peers, your manager etc which may ultimately lead to less time off!
So where do we draw the line? Between no time and too much time, where can we find a happy medium that suits both employees and employers? How much time is enough to refresh and motivate employees and is Richard Branson actually pulling a fast one with his “ethical” rule?