Workers of the world, you have lots to lose with unlimited holidays

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL September 29, 2014

unlimited holidays for workersFloaters, full-timers, high-fliers, suits, listen up.

Richard Branson’s holiday largesse for his personal staff – unlimited leave without prior warning so long as it doesn’t harm the business – is not the new utopia. It’s not wage-slave paradise.

Here’s why:

Who decides that next batch of holidays you take won’t harm the business?

How long will self-regulation be tolerated, especially if your line manager doesn’t quite agree with your approach to the job?

Boring though it may sound, traditional holiday entitlements may be far better for employees, as lawyer Jessica Learmond-Criqui recently explained in The Guardian.

“The key legal problem is that it is harder to show you are treating employees consistently and fairly, compared to traditional arrangements where holiday entitlement is written in contracts, and the formula (for the most part) is clear. It would rely on huge amounts of discretion from employees and managers in deciding whether an absence will harm the business, making disagreement and argument inevitable,” she pointed out.

The disagreements could also give rise to any number of discrimination claims against businesses, she said.

Some of this could be mitigated by defining the precise meaning of “absence which may harm the business”. But then that doesn’t mean holiday utopia at all.

Should that matter? T’was well said that holidays in general breed unrealistic expectations and the minute you start wondering if a holiday is going to be wonderful enough, it never will be. Wouldn’t unlimited dollops of leave in the work year simply multiply the pain over and over?

Jack Kerouac

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life”
– Jack Kerouac