Sir Richard Branson, the boss of Virgin Group which employs more than 50,000 people around the world and operates in more than 50 countries, is offering his personal staff of 170 unlimited holiday time.

Sir Richard Branson explained the move on his website.“There is no need to ask for prior approval and neither the employees themselves nor their managers are asked or expected to keep track of their days away from the office. It is left to the employee alone to decide if and when he or she feels like taking a few hours, a day, a week or a month off, the assumption being that they are only going to do it when they feel a hundred per cent 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!”

He explained his daughter had seen an article about Netflix: ‘The Netflix initiative had been driven by a growing groundswell of employees asking about how their new technology-controlled time on the job (working at all kinds of hours at home and/or everywhere they receive a business text or email) could be reconciled with the company’s old-fashioned time-off policy. That is to say, if Netflix was no longer able to accurately track employees’ total time on the job, why should it apply a different and outmoded standard to their time away from it? The company agreed, and as its ‘Reference Guide on our Freedom and Responsibility Culture’ explains, ‘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.’

Finally, Sir Richard Branson gave hope to the other 50,000 employees by saying: “Assuming it goes as well as expected, we will encourage all our subsidiaries to follow suit, which will be incredibly exciting to watch.”

Jayne Carrington, Managing Director of Right Management Workplace Wellness reacted to the news: “Richard Branson’s decision to give his personal employees unlimited holiday is certainly a good step in the right direction towards having a productive and engaged workforce. Our own research, The Flux Report, found that nearly half (46 percent) of HR decision makers reported an increase in employee fatigue and disengagement in recent years, so something clearly needs to be done to tackle this. Offering unlimited holiday could give many organisations the opportunity to offer a type of flexible working that could ultimately benefit the business’ bottom line. However, each organisation should consider the impact of implementing such an initiative and how they can make it work for them, if it is indeed appropriate for them.

“Embracing flexibility has been a big workplace trend this year and Branson’s encouragement for other companies to follow suit is set to spark this even further and may indeed prompt an increase in unlimited holiday entitlement in other organisations.  However, not having a set holiday allowance does have its potential pitfalls and employers need to be aware of these. For example, when it is left to the employee to make the decision about when they should take time off, it actually may be the case that employees take less holiday than they would if they had a set amount to take. This is largely due to the fact that they may not realise how little holiday they have taken and do not feel the urgency to use up a certain number of days before their holiday year ends.

“The best way to meet any challenges is to build a culture of trust within the organisation. After all, a happy employee is one that feels valued and trusted by their employer, feels aligned to the business’ vision and mission and feels that their workplace has a pleasant and motivating culture of honesty. Like any relationship, it’s a two-way process, whereby both employer and employee play a role in making it work.”

So would you allow your staff unlimited holiday time? Add your comments below!