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Netflix Should Ditch Its Unlimited Vacation Policy. Its CEO Is Proof.

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 3/11/2015 Jenny Che
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Reed Hastings takes six weeks of vacation, and he says it's to set an example for his company. So why doesn't the Netflix CEO just set a policy of six weeks off, rather than offering the vague blanket of "unlimited" vacation? 

Hastings said at a New York Times DealBook conference Tuesday that he takes six weeks off a year as part of the company's long-standing policy of "unlimited" vacation, Business Insider reported.

He added that he was open about his vacations with his colleagues. 

"Just as you would expect, you often do your best thinking [when] you're off hiking in some mountain," Hastings said.

While it's great that Hastings is committed to the policy, he's also likely one of the few who are ranked high enough in the company to be able to take such a sizable chunk of time off. By comparison, Netflix employees take an average of three to five weeks off during the year, the company told The Wall Street Journal a few years back.

If Hastings really wants six weeks to be the standard, he should just make it the standard. "Unlimited" vacation seems generous, but it doesn't seem like his own employees are really going that crazy with it.

U.S. workers are pretty restrained about vacation anyway -- on average, 40 percent of workers with paid leave don't take all of their available days off, according to one 2014 survey. Enacting a clear six-week vacation policy would be an enormous help to Netflix employees who might otherwise feel guilty about taking more time off than the people around them.

Hastings' embrace of "unlimited" vacation is, however, a welcome shift away from the recent incidents of big-time CEOs collapsing at work. In September, BMW's new CEO Harald Krueger fell onstage at a motor show. He had been feeling unwell after traveling extensively on business trips. And United Continental chief Oscar Munoz was under extreme stress in the days leading up to his heart attack last month. 

Netflix did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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