First through third-year employees get 15 days off, fourth year employees get 20 days off, and people who’ve worked there for six years or longer get 25 days.
But there is one side-note to the policy that we haven’t heard of anywhere else: Googlers are allowed to donate their vacation time.
It all started a few years ago, when one Googler had a parent who had fallen sick. That employee took time off to return home to care for their relative, but matters hadn’t improved by the time their allotted chunk of paid vacation had run out. They either had to take an unpaid leave, or stop caring for that ill family member.
But one of their teammates, who knew about the tough situation, made a proposition. They wanted to let that other Googler have a few of their vacation days.
So began Google’s vacation donation system.
Laszlo Bock, Google’s head of HR, told this story on stage at the company’s third Take Your Parents to Work Day, a celebration hosted at its Mountain View campus where parents flew in from all over the country and the world to attend speeches by execs, go to employee-led classes and demos, and explore the Googleplex.
“So, after that, we created a policy where, if there’s another Googler in need, you can actually take your vacation and give it to them,” Bock said to a crowded ampitheatre filled with thousands of parents. “What’s cool about that is it came not from people in the operations department, but from one of your families saying ‘This is important.’ And so we built it into the system, so that everyone can benefit from that idea, not just one person.”
One of Google’s management mantras is to create an environment where smart, creative employees are free (and encouraged) to push company-wide changes, and this anecdote shows how that idea can actually play out.