Richard Branson would make for one hell-of-an-interesting boss. In news this week, the renegade billionaire announced that all employees of his Virgin Group would be entitled to unlimited leave. The company would remove any restrictions on leave and other entitlements (interestingly, it won’t apply to certain employees) in an effort to allow its employees free reign. But many job experts doubt whether it will indeed add up to a good deal for Virgin’s many employees.

In a blog post to support the new scheme Mr. Branson espoused the virtues of his new workplace relations plan: “Simply stated, the policy-that-isn’t permits all salaried staff to take off whenever they want for as long as they want. There is no need to ask for prior approval and neither the employees themselves nor their managers are asked or expected to keep track of their days away from the office.”

The ‘blue-sky thinking’ CEO says he was inspired by similar moves employed by online streaming fixture Netflix. The aim of the venture, he claims, is to improve employee productivity and company morale. Aside form those aims, Mr. Branson also seeks to benefit from a looser entitlements system and fewer working hours clocked up by mid-to-high level staff.

But some critics have pointed out the difficulty in actually leaving a busy work environment. National Secretary of the ASU, Linda White, critiqued the likelihood of such grandiose pronouncements: “Our experience of leave is you can offer as much as you like, but many workers can’t get the time off they want or need, especially if they’re leaving behind understaffed teams.”

Additionally, other Virgin support staff (i.e. unsalaried staff) cannot expect to receive the same benefits as those in management or corporate offices. As such, Mr. Branson’s announcement amounts to little more than a well-timed publicity stunt designed to make us all sigh and declare ‘I wish I worked at Virgin!’


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