Some companies in Singapore actually practise giving unlimited leave to its employees – yes, you heard it right!
Local company SGAG, Fixx Digital and Netflix Asia tried this system but the effect was different for each company.
SGAG implemented this system in 2015 as they wanted to encourage a healthy culture where employees have a life outside of work.
However, there was an opposite effect. Employees were burnt out and they were not applying for the unlimited leave.
Some were worried that their colleagues had to cover their work or they would be perceived as skiving. Some also felt it was wrong to apply leave when others were not doing so.
In short, there was an invisible pressure deterring them from applying unlimited leave.
SGAG then decided to switch back to offering 21 days of leave.
Website design firm Fixx Digital also tried to implement this system but it has been abused by workers who claim 40 days of annual leave.
Now, they are only offering it as an incentive to those who have worked at least a year in the firm and have produced good results.
Netflix Asia has been practising the unlimited leave system since 2004 and the experience has been quite pleasant.
One of the male employees took three months off for his newborn and his colleagues have been very supportive.
Netflix Asia said employees can claim as many days of leave as they need but they also have a “responsibility to the team and to the company to do the right thing”.
HR experts said most employees do not know how to respond to this unstructured system as it is not a common practice.
Companies are encouraged to provide adequate leave to prevent employees from going “doctor shopping” even if they are not really sick.
The unlimited leave system may not be the best solution for every company but it is certainly a new way of approaching work-life balance and workplace flexibility.
It also sends a strong signal that employers can trust their workers to determine how many hours they need to produce results.