Unlimited Vacation Policies


I’m on vacation next week!

Agghh I’m gonna be working the whole time, I just know it.

My company has an unlimited vacation policy. Outsiders ask why we don’t all just take off 52 weeks a year. I don’t know. Most employees with unlimited vacation end up taking zer0 weeks a year.

Tech companies don’t hire employees who take vacation. Early-stage companies can’t afford to. We’re too small to have employee redundancy. When our server engineer is out (oops that’s me), backend development comes to a halt and everyone’s blocked.

Some speculate that “unlimited vacation” is a scheme to avoid paying employees for vacation days they didn’t take. Ha. The cost of paying out a few weeks’ vacation is nothing compared the value of the unpaid overtime we pull.

We talk a lot about the tech “talent shortage”, but come on – software development doesn’t require talent. Anyone with a couple years’ training could do my job. The real shortage lies in the lack of people willing to work obscenely long hours. When your company only has the funding to hire four developers, that’s what you need.

Last month, our lone iOS developer had a baby arrive sooner than expected. It was two weeks before launch and the timing was terrible. He videoconferenced in to our daily check-in wearing scrubs and a surgical mask. We urged him to get offline, attend to mommy and baby. But we were quietly glad that he didn’t. He was back at work the next day.

To avoid this kind of nonsense, Facebook and Apple pay the medical costs for female employees to freeze their eggs. This allows women to delay childbearing without a biologically-imposed deadline. It’s ostensibly a move to support female career empowerment, but the message is clear: We expect you to use these eggs after you’ve left Facebook. Tech companies put their engineers out to pasture by age 35 so there’s still plenty of time to become a wife and mother.

It’s not coercion or exploitation – the engineers choose this kind of life. Silicon Valley’s culture attracts a special breed of people who work nights, weekends, and Federal holidays because their lives are otherwise devoid of joy. There’s no reason to go home anyway.

Are you so far right on the autism spectrum that your only friends live inside a docker container? Do you spend your free time hacking esoteric programming languages while cobwebs collect on your gonads? We’re hiring!

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