Unlimited annual leave: gimmick or good idea?

  • Leave and Absence
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

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Stateside, the likes of Netflix, Glassdoor and LinkedIn are offering their staff unlimited annual leave. That’s right, staff get as many days off as they want. You might be thinking, “Why would any business want to do that?” But there are hidden benefits for you as well as the obvious ones for your staff, too…

The law

Employees in the UK are entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid annual leave every year. But there is a catch if employers let their staff take time off over their allowance—it’s unpaid. So, why should you consider an unlimited annual leave policy?

The good

The obvious benefit for staff is that they get more time off work. For you, an unlimited annual leave policy could help you:

  • Stand out from other employers when you’re recruiting new talent: Jobseekers are looking for jobs that fit around their lifestyles, not roles that restrict them. An unlimited holiday policy could catch the attention of the candidate your business needs.


  • Show your employees you trust them: Good staff respond well to having the power to plan their own work and holidays responsibly. When you let staff take extra time off, you reinforce a positive workplace culture.


  • Keep a well-rested and productive team: When staff return from an extended break, they’re more likely to be engaged in their work. And you’re more likely to retain your talent if they’re happy at work.

  If you think you might bring an unlimited annual leave policy into your business, make sure you write it into your staff contracts and other workplace policies. That way, all your staff know the process if they want to request for time off. Now you know why unlimited annual leave could be good for your business, let’s explore why you might want to think twice.

The bad

Imagine the worst case scenario. You have an employee who abuses your unlimited annual leave policy, taking weeks off at a time with a trail of unfinished work behind them. You’ll wonder why you ever made the policy in the first place. And then you’ll have other staff who might have the freedom to take extra annual leave, but end up taking less holidays. Staff with high workloads in a culture that rewards over-and-above commitment could be less willing to take time off. Instead of staff taking unlimited leave, you could see an increase in workplace presenteeism. But could there be a third way that gives staff a bit more freedom than their usual 9-5, without you introducing unlimited annual leave?

Flexible working

Flexible working could be the halfway house that helps your staff balance work with home without taking unpaid time off. Staff who struggle to use their existing holiday allowance might prefer to come in late or leave early once a week over unlimited annual leave. Making your workplace more flexible could be easier than launching an unlimited annual leave policy. Flexible working won you over? Learn why flexible working is good for business.


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