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Goldman Sachs recently announced that senior staff globally would be offered unlimited holiday in order to encourage “rest and recharge”.

Goldman Sachs is the latest in a line of large companies offering unlimited holiday, joining the likes of LinkedIn, Bumble and Netflix.

Unlimited holiday no doubt sounds attractive to most workers, however it must be taken into consideration that there are hidden conditions to such a work benefit.

Goldman Sachs have offered this only to those in senior roles, perhaps under the belief that senior employees can manage their role and work more effectively.

However, this has led to criticism that junior (and often younger) staff are being overworked.

As junior staff at Goldman Sachs are still subject to their usual contract holidays, the announcement of unlimited holidays for senior staff is likely to assist current feelings of discontent.

An internal survey conducted at Goldman Sachs last year (albeit consisting only of 13 first-year employees) showed that they averaged 95 hours of work a week, fitting in only 5 hours of sleep a night.

Conditions were described as “inhumane” and “abusive” and all participants commented that their work had negatively impacted their relationships with friends and family and, even more importantly, severely affected their mental and physical health.

In a time where employee recruitment and retention are difficult given the global circumstances, could Goldman Sachs be considered to have done the right thing?

Experts at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development comment that although unlimited holiday can empower employees, it must also be “fair” – granting it to one set of employees and excluding others could lead to employees feeling undervalued and resentful, leading to poorer job satisfaction and ultimately, exodus of talent.

Furthermore, is unlimited holiday really a benefit to those who receive it?

On paper, unlimited holidays sounds employee-centric and for the betterment of their wellbeing, but does this translate to real-world benefit?

Research conducted in 2017 by a human resources platform, Namely, found that workers with unlimited holidays actually took fewer days’ leave on average than those with fixed leave.

Research has shown that this is usually because employees don’t want to be perceived as unmotivated – therefore demonstrating how unlimited holiday may in some circumstances, be counterproductive.

Goldman Sachs’ decision to offer unlimited holiday to senior staff may be a welcome one to some, however it does pose questions as to whether or not they have considered the consequences of the partial implementation thoroughly.

If you have any questions or are an employer looking to review your employment policies including holiday entitlement and pay, Mincoffs employment team can assist in conducting a thorough analysis and provide recommendations and advice based on your workforce.

Visit our employment law page or contact Nick Smith or Laura Liddle for more information.

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