Unlimited paid leave is good for business, says US firm in France

Employees who can take as much paid holiday as they like are more productive according to recruitment company

Employees in France already have a minimum of five weeks paid leave

Workers who are given unlimited paid holiday are generally more productive, a firm offering the perk has claimed.

France already has generous holiday rules. Employees have a minimum of five weeks paid leave, and there are usually also eight RTT days (réduction du temps de travail) to negotiate.

Depending on the industry, various other holidays can be taken – some media folk (not at The Connexion…) have 12 weeks’ paid leave every summer, for example.

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‘Staff are generally considerate when they take leave’

Employment site Indeed has gone one step further, by offering no hard cap on the number of days its staff take off.

Leave must be approved by bosses, however, so it effectively depends on managing your workload well first.

Senior sales director Charles Chantala said: “We have done this since 2016 and it works very well.”

The company has 12,000 staff worldwide and 105 French employees.

“On average, people take six or seven days extra,” Mr Chantala said. “We are already very flexible about where our employees work – in the office, from home some days, or even fully remote – and having flexibility to take paid holidays when you need to, over and above the legal entitlement, fits in with our style.”

He added that staff are generally considerate about when they take leave, and it is noted down by human resources.

“In practice, people normally talk it over with other members of their team to see if it is feasible. That way, they can make sure they will not be leaving colleagues in the lurch.”

Mr Chantala said he only knew of one case where a request was turned down, and that was because of a big project on deadline.

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‘People are more relaxed and productive’

Most workers used the additional leave to help out family or friends, to move house or for big DIY projects, rather than going away, except at the end of the year when days are often used to extend the New Year break.

“In general, removing the worry about how much leave you have left means people are a bit more relaxed and productive,” Mr Chantala said.

“We are a service industry and flexible, so it works for us, but I do not think it would be possible in a factory or building firm, for example, where people have to be physically present.”

He added that the impact of unlimited holidays was probably less in France, with its generous paid holiday system, than in the US, where there is very little paid leave.

Mixed opinions in France

A study this year by Belgian human resources firm SD Worx, which has French offices, found that 46% of workers here had no opinion on whether unlimited paid holidays were a good idea. Another 15% thought they were a bad idea.

The study found that in companies in France that offered unlimited paid holidays, a third of employees never took them, another third took just one or two days extra, and less than a quarter took many more holidays than they would otherwise.

A third of employers said they had not considered offering unlimited paid leave to staff, a third believed it would not work, and only the final third thought it might be good for their business.

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