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There’s a new trend in corporate benefits packages. Not satisfied with vacation days, sick days, and family and medical leave, many employers are now offering days off to protest the injustice of Trump’s America. From CNBC:
Technology start-up Polaroid Swing launched a policy on Tuesday allowing its employees to take paid time off work for political engagements such as protests or running for political office, co-founder Tommy Stadlen told CNBC.
Stadlen is British and started the company in San Francisco. He said that over half of the 12-strong team are immigrants and his decision to introduce the policy was driven in part by the increasingly anti-immigration rhetoric coming from countries such as the U.S. and U.K.
…Such a policy isn’t widespread yet across the tech world, though some companies have enacted similar rules. Jelly, a start-up co-founded by Biz Stone, who is also a co-founder of Twitter, launched paid time off for civic engagement in February. And database start-up Fauna also launched a similar policy in February. Other technology companies offering paid leave for political engagements include Buoyant, Turbine Labs, Atipica and Vicarious.
Stadlen said other companies need to introduce this policy too.
Many businesses are taking Stadlen’s advice. From Fast Company:
When Alexandra Millatmal, a co-instructor at Omaha Code School, wanted time off on March 8 to participate in a Day Without a Woman, she wasn’t sure what to do. “I didn’t know if I should be asking for paid time off, or if I should just not show up for work,” she says.
Even though she feels the leadership at Big Wheel Brigade (parent company to Omaha Code School) values her contributions and those of other women, Millatmal wanted to participate in the larger movement. “I think it’s important for [my students] to see my physical absence during the strike,” she says.
When Millatmal voiced this desire to her employer, they responded by adding two days of social justice paid time off (PTO). Rahul Gupta, president and founder of Big Wheel Brigade, says he considered making March 8 a company-wide day off, but he instead chose a more flexible policy to allow for different uses and causes. “The politics of my business partner and I are reflected by our employees, but that may not always be the case,” he explains. “We want to make sure that we’re inclusive of different viewpoints.”
The article also listed Luxe, Burton Snowboards, and Patagonia as employers with similar benefits, the latter offering to pay bail and time off for employees arrested during protests.
Adam Kleinberg, CEO of a San Francisco creative agency called Traction, launched his own social justice policy in reaction to Trump’s election. However, he makes it clear that all political views will be respected.
We are giving all employees two days of paid leave per year to participate in our democracy—however they see fit. They can march on Washington, volunteer at the Boys & Girls Club (or some other organization that had its funding cut off), or be a poll worker.
…Still, it was a key challenge to design the program to be a meaningful benefit to any employee regardless of political views, while at the same time maintaining a clear distinction from other companies that offer Volunteer Time Off (VTO) policies. It would be hypocritical to introduce a program that was discriminatory against anyone because of their beliefs.
I’m fine with a private company enacting any benefits they see fit, as long as they aren’t discriminatory. But I am troubled by the official endorsement of protest culture which has grown increasingly violent over the past few years.
What are your thoughts, Ricochetti? Is Social Justice Leave a good idea, a horrible idea, or something in between?