Bethesda company offers unlimited time off


The eastern sky just before sunrise over the Chesapeake Bay. (Ray K. Saunders/The Washington Post)

Company: WeddingWire.

Location: Bethesda.

Number of employees: 98.

Need a vacation?

Take as long as you need, says Jennifer Harding, director of human resources at WeddingWire.

Beginning Jan. 1, the Web-based event planning company is allowing employees unlimited time off.

“We just want you to do your job,” Harding said. “If you can do that, why limit the amount of vacation you can take?”

The procedure for requesting time off will be the same as it’s always been, Harding said: Employees send vacation requests to their managers for approval, then add their plans to a department-wide calendar.

“Everything will work exactly the same,” she said. “We’re just taking the attendance out of performance.”

Chris Chi, associate director of sales, says the policy makes particular sense at a company where most projects are driven by sales targets and deadlines.

“If you’ve met your sales goal by the middle of the month, I have no place as a manager to keep you from taking the rest of the month off,” he said.

For Megan Hermeling, a senior marketing manager, the new policy means no longer having to fret about taking time off to take care of a sick baby, or stockpiling vacation time for the holidays.

“This will make it a little easier to take a day off when I need to,” said Hermeling. “With a baby, you never know how often she’ll get sick.”

The company currently gives new hires 16 days of paid vacation. The challenge, Harding says, will be convincing employees that the policy isn’t too good to be true.

“We have to make sure employees don’t look at this as a head game where we’re trying to keep them from taking any time off at all,” she said.

Harding said she plans to periodically check in with employees to make sure they feel comfortable taking time off. Company managers are also being encouraged to do the same.

“It’ll take a little getting used to,” Chi said. “But if we can wrap our minds around this, I think it’ll be a great thing.”

Abha Bhattarai covers local retail, hospitality and banking for The Washington Post. She has previously written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.

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