This company in Singapore is giving staff 1.5 months’ leave and S$1,800 cash – there’s just one catch to nabbing that sweet deal

Deslyn Ng (left), 27, has plans to visit South America in 2021, while Helen Mottus (right), 27, used her six weeks’ leave to travel to Estonia and Morocco.

For most people, taking over a month’s leave from work is extremely tricky.

But for employees of online international money transfer service TransferWise, six weeks of paid time off is practically guaranteed, thanks to a new rewards programme the company refers to as a “sabbatical”.

This is on top of the 21 days’ leave its Singaporean employees get annually, and a three-day bonding trip held every year in Estonia, fully paid for by the company.

In addition to the extended leave, staff even get a £1,000 (S$1,800) cash gift.

There’s just one catch: employees must work for the company for at least four years to qualify for the reward.

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Since being implemented in January last year, all of the 87 global employees eligible for a sabbatical have taken it, TransferWise’s chief people officer Ross Seychell told Business Insider.

TransferWise, which was founded in 2011, has 1,400 employees across 11 offices, including Singapore (90 employees).

As it only created its local office two years ago, all of the eight staff members who will be eligible for a sabbatical this year – and another two who have already taken it up – are expats who transferred over from offices in Europe, Seychell said.

Transferwise senior verification lead Helen Mottus, 27, used her sabbatical in July last year to attend her niece’s birth in Estonia and take a week-long trip to Morocco with friends.

Other employees worldwide have used the sabbatical to take study courses, work on startup ideas, and move into a new home.

Singaporean Deslyn Ng, 27, will be the first local employee eligible for a sabbatical in 2021 – and she already has plans to travel across South America using the cash allowance.

Her itinerary includes hiking Machu Picchu, petting alpacas, diving with sea lions in the Galapagos Islands, and seeing the Moai statues on Easter island, as well as a week “bumming around” at home.

Ng said the luxury of the uncommonly long holiday would let her visit places “considerably further away from Singapore”, especially those requiring over 24 hours transit time.

“The longest holiday I’ve ever taken is roughly two weeks, so triple of that is going to be incredible!” she added. “I know it’s going to end with me feeling mentally rejuvenated… it will be a time for me to give myself a treat by not having to worry about anything but enjoying the trip.”

Chief people officer Seychell said the sabbatical is meant to give employees “a long-enough period to fully switch off, reflect and refocus” after working in a “fast-paced and challenging” environment.

“While there is an obvious time and financial cost, we absolutely see the programme as an investment in the employees,” he added. “They come back from a sabbatical well-rested, and – having reflected on their goals – are ready to make an even bigger impact.”

He added that the company had factored in the cost of covering the employee’s absence and reintegrating them when they return.

So far, teams haven’t faced any issues over workloads, as employees plan a handover with their superior before leaving, he added.

“I’m not sure why paid time off is not common practice in more companies,” Seychell said. “We think it should be.”

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