Could construction workers have unlimited holidays?
This morning Richard Branson announced that he’d given his team of 170 unlimited holidays, not requiring approval or confirmation of when they would be back before taking the time off. The assumption being that a member of his team would not take time off unless they were sure the company could accommodate them.
Branson was inspired by his daughter to offer unlimited holidays, following moves made by Netflix. Following a successful outcome of this test Branson envisages rolling it out to the rest of the conglomerate’s subsidiaries (around 50,000 employees in over 50 countries).
Of the policy Branson wrote: "We should focus on what people get done, not on how many hours or days worked. Just as we don't have a nine-to-five policy, we don't need a vacation policy. The assumption being that they are only going to do it when they feel a 100% 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 construction industry is one of the most time focussed and demand lead industries out there and it’s questionable whether a firm could let its employees take unlimited holidays as this would potentially have knock on impacts on the capacity of businesses within the industry to be reactive when schedules don’t work to plan (which happen regularly in construction for reasons outside of the control of individual businesses or workers).
Although it’s unlikely that unlimited holidays would be a practical solution for the construction industry, due to the task orientated nature of construction, many firms operate flexible hours and are happy for their employees to leave site early, when specific tasks are completed, or when the schedule of work is met. It’s perceivable that this could be developed as a sector wide policy in the future and could be an attractive benefit to get more people interested in the industry.
Branson's new unlimited holidays policy is being put forward in his new book The Branson Way.