Microsoft is kicking off the new year by giving its US employees unlimited time off.
On Thursday, the tech giant announced the new policy called ‘Discretionary Time Off’ in an email to employees from Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft’s chief people officer.
Unlimited time off will apply to all salaried US employees starting 16 January, according to the memo seen by The Verge.
This means employees will no longer be required to formally record vacation days thanks to the new policy. So, even if you’re a new Microsoft employee, you won’t have to wait to accrue vacation time anymore.
Along with the new unlimited time off policy, the company will offer 10 corporate holidays, leaves of absence, sick and mental health time off, and time away for jury duty or bereavement.
Employees that have an unused vacation balance will get a one-time payout in April.
Microsoft’s new policy will not apply to hourly workers and employees outside the US due to legal restrictions.
In the last two years, workplaces have been forced to think again about their employee benefits matching the current needs of their workforce.
Companies like Salesforce, LinkedIn, Oracle, and Netflix already offer similar unlimited time off policies for employees.
‘Employers are finding that offering unlimited time off helps relieve burnout in workers, can minimise turnover due to stress and anxiety around limited time off, and ultimately create a more productive workforce,’ said Jill Cotton, Careers Advice Expert, Glassdoor.
Last year, Microsoft announced that it would allow more employees to work from home permanently.
‘Employees increasingly want autonomy over how they juggle their home and work lives and unlimited time off policies can empower workers to take control of their work-life balance,’
Glassdoor data shows that burnout among workers is at a record high. Unlimited time off allows employees to rest and recharge as and when needed.
‘Putting workers in control of their working lives keeps productivity and motivational levels high, but it can also boost employee morale as unlimited time off policies show workers they are trusted by their company,’ said Cotton.
‘For workers, unlimited policies can ease anxiety about not being able to take a break if they haven’t accrued enough holiday and offers greater flexibility for those with caring responsibilities,’
However, unlimited time off can quickly fail if the policy isn’t properly implemented or lacks support from the top down.
Glassdoor research found that just a third of workers say their employer encourages them to use their full holiday entitlement.
‘Employers need to foster a workplace culture in which it’s seen as healthy to take time off – managers should example healthy holiday behaviour by regularly using their allocation and not contacting their team while they are out of the office. Enforcing a minimum amount of time out of the office also encourages workers to take time away,’ said Cotton.
Still, the practice of unlimited time off is more common in America than in Britian. In the UK, a survey conducted by Glassdoor in July 2022 found that just 5% of employees have access to unlimited leave.