Around the US, a growing number of companies have started offering “social justice PTO” — a few days each month to protest, vote, and participate in marches in addition to their normal vacation and sick days.
On May 1, International Workers’ Day (also known as May Day), Facebook is testing the waters by letting employees attend pro-immigrant rallies without fear of repercussion. In a statement to KTVU, Facebook said staff can use their paid time off to join a May Day demonstration.
“At Facebook, we’re committed to fostering an inclusive workplace where employees feel comfortable expressing their opinions and speaking up,” a spokesperson said in a statement to Bloomberg. “We support our people in recognising International Workers’ Day and other efforts to raise awareness for safe and equitable employment conditions.”
There are some industries for which social justice PTO may never arrive. Many traditional news companies, for instance, strictly forbid employees from outward displays of political affiliation. Low-wage work often looks unfavorably on job candidates with arrest records due to protest history.
But at companies with social justice PTO, personal opinions are largely seen as positives, not negatives.
At the San Francisco-based creative agency Traction, for example, CEO Adam Kleinberg believes the “divisive political discourse” since November’s presidential election has made for a climate where people should speak up if they so choose.
“We are giving all employees two days of paid leave per year to participate in our democracy — however they see fit,” Kleinberg wrote in a LinkedIn post. “They can march on Washington, volunteer at the Boys & Girls Club or some other organisation that had its funding cut off, or be a poll worker.”
In addition, the valet app Luxe, babysitter locator Helpr, Burton Snowboards, and Patagonia all offer employees some amount of time to ditch work to support causes they care about, Fast Company reports.
Companies may be getting more socially conscious in response to their employees’ desire for personal expression. Twenty- and thirty-somethings tend to be far more inclined to speak out about injustices (even if it’s on social media) and much less likely to accept the status quo as fixed.
Employers, looking to keep those workers happy, may be responding with a perk they actually care about.