In Depth

Richard Branson announces unlimited holiday for Virgin staff

Billionaire hopes it will boost morale and productivity, but experts warn it won't work for all businesses

Richard Branson has announced that Virgin staff in the US and UK will be able to take as much holiday as they want, without asking for approval.

The Virgin Group boss said 170 members of his personal staff could "take off whenever they want for as long as they want" in the hopes that it will boost morale, creativity and productivity.

Branson said he was confident that his employees would only take time off "when they feel one hundred percent comfortable that they and their team are up to date on every project and that their absence will not in any way damage the business - or, for that matter, their careers".

Several companies have already implemented unlimited holiday policies, including tech companies Foursquare and Tumblr as well as online TV giant Netflix.

The billionaire outlined the new policy in a an excerpt from his new book, published on his blog. He said that if it proved successful, he would encourage all Virgin subsidiaries to implement the policy - or non-policy, as he calls it.

"Where Branson goes, people will follow," Christian May, head of campaigns at The Institute of Directors told The Guardian. He revealed that the organisation was considering surveying its members about their reaction to Branson's announcement.

May explained that the policy was an illustration of how drastically the world of work was changing. "The old notion of 9am-5pm with three weeks off is increasingly old fashioned," he said.

However, May added that it would be difficult for some businesses to function effectively "if you don't know which staff you have in tomorrow, and they all decided to take the day off".

So, will it catch on? "We don't expect the roll out of libertarian structures across workplaces," said May. "But it should be watched with interest."

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