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“Unlimited vacations”, what are they and what companies offer them in Italy

There is an ongoing revolution in the world of work resulting from the need of workers to increase their welfare, with the ‘time’ factor increasingly crucial. If before it was companies that dictated the law on working hours and workplaces, now it is employees who impose a new business model, forcing the old system with the phenomenon of “major resignations”. The United States has made great strides in this direction, even going so far as to make unlimited vacation time for employees in order to avoid talent flight. What are Unlimited Holidays and how do they work? Are there companies that also offer them in Italy? Let’s go in order.

The phenomenon of “big resignations”

Covid has created a new way of working, disinfecting smart work all over the world. From that moment on, it was hard to turn back, so more and more people decided to quit to find a solution that would allow them to better reconcile work and private life.

The phenomenon of “great resignations”, which originated in the United States, has also spread to Europe, including Italy. According to data released by Ministry of Labor, In the first nine months of 2022, there were 1 million 660 thousand resignations, up 22% from 2021. Why do so many people decide to quit? Because they are no longer satisfied with the work they do, they aspire to get a job and get higher salaries, but also because they are looking for better working conditions that will allow them to lead a less stressful life.

Escape from work: why (even in Italy) many workers quit

Unlimited holidays: what are they?

Covid has changed work models by driving more and more people (especially young people) towards jobs that can be done remotely, in Agile mode And not remotely. The search is not limited to smart work, but also flexibility in working hours and days. This is because it has been realized that personal well-being comes first, but also because the cost of living in urban centers (where offices are concentrated) has become very high.

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And so private companies are reorganizing themselves to avoid mass flight of talent, offering increasingly attractive work solutions, such as smart working up to 60 days a year to commuting anywhere in the world to live and work (as in the case of Reuters) or unlimited vacations (as in Microsoft case, which also awarded unlimited smart work). The IT giant has informed its American employees that from January 16th onwards they will be able to take advantage of “unlimited vacations,” a “discretionary time off” (DTO) plan, and “discretionary free time” to devote to one’s life. what does that mean? That in case of exceeding the holidays specified in the contract, there will be no deductions from the salary. “The way, time and place we do our work have changed radically — reads the email sent to employees by our head of human resources, Kathleen Hogan — and as we shifted, updating our vacation policy toward a more flexible model was a natural step.”

Microsoft, How Unlimited Employee Vacations Work

Going into details, we note that not all that glitters is gold. Microsoft offers its US employees a basic package of ten days of vacation, sick leave, mental health leave, bereavement leave, jury duty leave, and other exceptional circumstances. Added to this is the closing of the company, which usually applies to everyone. Then there is the now famous unlimited paid leave, to be used based on how the work is organized. There is also a bonus for accumulated and untaken holidays, with an additional one-time fee arriving in April. This policy only applies to US employees because bureaucratic and legal issues make it difficult to extend it to those working outside the United States.

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It is clear to everyone that Microsoft’s new vacation policy is beneficial not only for employees but also for the company. By accounting for only 10 vacation days per year, there will be less unused vacation paid to employees in the event that they are fired or resign, as well as less administrative work to be done. Some even feared that this new policy would lead to less use of vacation days than in the past (with the bonus given), but Microsoft has confirmed that it will watch to ensure an equal minimum amount of leave for everyone.

Work less for the same salary: a short week is a success

Private working life, where we are in Italy

The first to adopt the policy of unlimited vacations was British entrepreneur Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, who announced this important innovation in 2014. But is this business model really sustainable? Numerous studies have shown that smart working (and in general worker satisfaction) increases productivity. Oracle, LinkedIn, Netflix, Goldman Sachs and Salesforce are also convinced of this, US companies that have adopted models similar to Microsoft’s Unlimited Vacation. This is because employees are no longer working by the hour but by goals, and while it is true that workers can choose when and how long they can leave work, it is also true that they must meet deadlines. So everyone can organize their work as they see fit, while also leaving room for private life. Not to mention the economic and corporate benefits that we mentioned above.

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However, not everyone is willing to update on the job front. In Italy, for example, smart work (despite being widely used during the pandemic) is still struggling to catch up. At the moment there is only talk in our country of hybrid work, with some days and others remote. In some cases, even a short week, but there are also facts in which we are completely back, to the same pre-pandemic working condition. But pioneers are not lacking.

Smart changes at work: what will happen from January 2023

Unlimited holidays, cases (very rare) in Italy

If in the United States in 2021 companies offering unlimited vacation plans are about 4%, then in Italy it can be counted on the fingers of one hand. These include OneDay, a group of companies for ScuolaZoo, WeRoad and the House of Talent, which has adopted a policy of unlimited, fully paid annual leave since January 2022. Then, in March, it was the turn of management consulting firm Seedble. Velvet Media, a Veneto-based marketing company with 150 employees, is one of the first Italian companies to introduce a policy of unlimited vacations. In June 2022, it eliminated office hours and offered unlimited holidays to its employees. It is no coincidence that “Think differently” is his motto.

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