Aarti Shah 09 Mar 2016 // 4:00PM GMT
CHICAGO — Golin is the latest US PR agency to reconsider its leave and flextime policies by announcing unlimited vacation time and an extended parental leave policy today.
The initiative — dubbed “Life Time” — makes Golin among the largest PR agency to roll out unlimited time-off that employees can take “at their discretion, and in concert with their team and clients.” Netflix popularized the unlimited vacation policy which some smaller PR firms have also adopted as a recruiting tactic.
“We want people to take more time-off so they can be more effective for clients,” Golin’s president of the America Gary Rudnick told the Holmes Report. “In the past, we had [paid time off] and people would hoard sick days and then would realize they didn’t take any time off for themselves.”
Rudnick said before today’s change, Golin offered between 18 to 35 days of sick/vacation time that varied based on tenure and seniority.
Unlimited vacation is often seen as a remedy to the historically low number of vacation days allotted to American workers, especially compared to other advanced nations. Critics of the policy, however, express concerns that without guidelines on the acceptable number of days to take-off, the default will be the minimal. When employees leave a company they also miss out on being paid for accrued, unused leave.
“There are still billability targets,” Rudnick said. “In any given month, you might be more billable and other months you might be less. The system used to be based on tenure and now it’s based on trust.”
As part of an IPG-wide policy overhaul, Golin has extended its paid parental leave in the US from two weeks to six weeks. Paid short-term disability for birth mothers also increased from two weeks to six weeks, giving birth mothers up to 12 weeks paid leave.
Last year, the WPP-owned Hill + Knowlton Strategies introduced US industry-leading parental leave policy of 16 weeks paid leave for birth mothers, 10 weeks paid leave for partners. This year, Finn Partners extended its paid parental leave for primary caregivers from one month to three months fully paid.
Today’s initiative also rolls out a ‘work-from-anywhere once-a-week policy’ for all employees, part-time working options, job sharing and a $75 monthly stipend for health and wellness. Rudnick says the agency is spending the next two weeks on an agency-wide training around the policy changes.
“Al Golin has always said that ‘happy people make happy clients’ and we couldn’t agree more,” said CEO Fred Cook in a statement.