- Goldman Sachs began offering unlimited vacation to its partners and managing directors as of May 1, according to an internal memo first reported Saturday by The Telegraph.
- “As a firm, we are committed to providing our people with differentiated benefits and offerings to support well-being and resilience,” the bank said in the memo, dated April 22. Under the change, senior staff can “take time off when needed without a fixed vacation day entitlement.”
- The policy comes as the bank, starting next year, is requiring its employees to take off at least three weeks per year, according to a memo seen last month by Business Insider.
“As we continue to take care of our people at every stage of their careers and focus on the experience of our partners and managing directors, we are pleased to announce enhancements and changes to our global vacation program designed to further support time off to rest and recharge,” the bank wrote in the memo.
Goldman’s hard-charging work culture has been under a microscope since March 2021, when a presentation by 13 junior analysts at the bank went viral, detailing “inhumane” 100-hour workweeks, deteriorating physical and mental health and a souring outlook for the future.
The group asked management to cap workweeks at 80 hours and respect a policy that mandates that the bank’s analysts be out of the office from 9 p.m. Friday to 9 a.m. Sunday. Goldman and the banking industry writ large responded last year by boosting starting pay for the least experienced bankers.
Some banks — most notably, Citi — took the opportunity to address the other prong in work-life balance: time. Within weeks of the Goldman junior analyst presentation, Citi announced a hybrid work schedule for most of its staff.
Thus far, banks have not outwardly engaged in one-upmanship over individual time-off policies. Goldman’s unlimited-leave rule may threaten to trigger that. But limiting unlimited leave to the bank’s upper echelons also could further entrench a class system dividing partners and managing directors from lower-ranking employees. The bank in January doled out one-time special rewards, totaling in the millions of dollars for some, to its approximately 400 partners — in addition to annual bonuses.
The unlimited leave policy is not the first tweak Goldman has made to its vacation offerings this year. The bank announced last month it would require employees to take off at least three weeks per year, according to a memo from human resources chief Bentley de Beyer.
Among those three weeks, workers must take "at least one week of consecutive time off," de Beyer wrote, according to Business Insider.
Under the bank’s previous policy, a "portion of the population" was mandated a minimum of 10 days off per year, a person familiar with the matter told Business Insider. However, "nobody enforced it," the person said. Further, the banker said, it’s “probably not a good look if you actually take three weeks.”
Some human resources groups, such as the U.K.’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, have said the theory behind unlimited leave is good, but such policies only work when company culture sees taking leave as acceptable.
Human resources platform Namely, meanwhile, found in 2017 that employees at firms with unlimited leave tended to take fewer days off per year than under limited-leave policies.
Changes that took effect this month aren’t limited to partners and managing directors. Junior staff will be given an additional two days off each year, according to the April 22 memo.
One change at Goldman starting Jan. 1: Unused vacation days will no longer roll over from one year to the next.