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Traveler’s check-up: CEOs discuss pros and cons of liberal vacation policies

CEOs were asked: What is your company’s current vacation policy? More companies are increasingly turning to an open-ended trust system — is this something you have considered?
CEOs were asked: What is your company’s current vacation policy? More companies are increasingly turning to an open-ended trust system — is this something you have considered? Getty Images/iStockphoto

CEOs were asked: What is your company’s current vacation policy? More companies are increasingly turning to an open-ended trust system — is this something you have considered?

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Our vacation policy is based on length of employment. After significant milestones at the company like 5 and 10 years, the number of vacation days allotted increases. And while it’s not written into our policy, we also usually give extra days off to employees throughout the year around holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and 4th of July, and after the busy tax season as a reward. In terms of an open-ended trust system, it is something management has discussed and considered, but we don’t think we are quite ready to roll out such a policy yet. Since we have a billable hours business model, a flex-vacation policy may make it more difficult for employees to reach their billability goals. However, we have not ruled it out and it could be something that we implement in the near future to appeal to the next generation of workers.

Tony Argiz, chairman, CEO, Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra, LLC (MBAF)

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The employees in the production portion of the business receive a week vacation per year. They can take as many unpaid days as they want and we are flexible with family emergencies and give them paid accumulated personal time. We work on the open ended trust system with the office staff; they work extra hours to make up for or finish up projects all the time so it evens out in the long run.

Jennifer Cramer, CEO, co-founder, The Spice Lab

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    We have a set number of vacation days and holidays, but we pride ourselves on being flexible, which includes the ability to work remotely. We encourage our people to travel and take time for themselves. One of the great things about Stantec is that our employees also have the opportunity to travel for work on projects across the globe, allowing them to take in new cultures and experiences.

    Adriana Jaegerman, senior principal, managing leader, Stantec

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    We have had an open vacation policy for senior team members for at least nine years because of the fact that we operate in multiple offices around the world and rely on technology heavily. While it is not an issue today, in the past I would estimate probably half of those entrusted with that freedom abused it in one way or another.

    José E. Latour, founding partner, LatourLaw

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    We have a small team and our vacation policy is one week’s vacation after the first six months and two weeks of vacation after a year of service. After five years, team members have three weeks’ vacation. Because of our size and budget, we could not have an open-ended trust vacation policy as some high tech companies have. We offset the fact that we do not have a liberal vacation policy with the fact that we pay 100 percent of insurance costs for all full-time employees.

    Beatrice Louissaint, president, CEO, Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council

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    My company’s vacation policy is a hybrid of both at the moment. We have not fully transitioned to an open-ended trust system just yet, but as long as the work is getting done, we are extremely flexible with vacation days. I think we will eventually completely move to an open-ended trust system.

    Melissa Medina, president, eMerge

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    Our managers have an open sick leave policy that enables them to stay home with pay, which helps prevent others from getting sick and also seems to shorten the duration of time out. For all staff, we have a very flexible approach to vacation, providing paid time off based on tenure, and also allowing unpaid time off if more time is needed.

    Kelly Ramsden, managing partner, Office Edge and Legal Edge

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    The current vacation policy gives full time employees with less than five years of continual employment the opportunity to earn two weeks’ vacation per year. Employees who hit the five- and 15-year marks of continual employment earn more. Similarly, our current sick leave policy is also set up on accrual basis. Although we have not considered an open-ended trust system, we have been considering implementing a system of paid time off, in which vacation, sick, and personal time are undifferentiated and may be used at the employee’s discretion

    Chana Sheldon, executive director, MOCA

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