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Microsoft staff to get unlimited leave

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Thousands of Microsoft employees across the United States will be given unlimited days off in an overhaul of its holiday policy.

The company’s discretionary time off scheme for its American workforce will come into effect on January 16, according to the Verge technology website, which cited a memo from Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft’s chief people officer. The policy for staff outside the US will remain the same.

“How, when, and where we do our jobs has dramatically changed,” Hogan told employees yesterday. “And as we’ve transformed, modernising our vacation policy to a more flexible model was a natural next step.”

Salaried US employees will be offered ten corporate holidays, leaves of absence, sick leave and mental health leave, as well as time away for jury duty, and bereavement leave, alongside unlimited “discretionary” days off. Workers with unused days of holiday are set to receive a one-off payment in April.

Based in Redmond, Washington State, Microsoft owns Azure, the cloud computing business, Windows, the operating system, and LinkedIn, the social network. It was founded in 1975 by Bill Gates and Paul Allen and is now one of the biggest listed companies in the world, with a market value of $1.8 trillion. Allen died in 2018, while Gates, 65, stepped down from Microsoft’s board three years ago. Satya Nadella, 55, is chairman and chief executive.

The switch to unlimited days off brings Microsoft’s holiday policy in line with that of LinkedIn, which it acquired in 2016 in a $26.2 billion deal. Similar policies are also in place at Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street investment banking group, and Netflix, the streaming business.

Reed Hastings, the Netflix co-chief executive, was prompted to overhaul its policy when an employee asked why, when the company did not track hours worked per day or week, it was tracking days not worked per year.

Sceptics question the impact of such policies, particularly inside companies without an environment where employees are encouraged to take time off.

Microsoft said: “Microsoft is modernising our vacation policy to a more flexible model and transitioning to discretionary time off [DTO]. How, when, and where employees do their jobs has dramatically changed and DTO aligns with more flexible ways of working.”