Silicon Valley’s tech giants are world renowned for their random employee ‘perks’ which include everything from free lunches prepped by expensive chefs, to free massages, nap pods and tricked out game rooms.
But the latest trend in Silicon Valley ‘fringe benefits’, which includes unlimited time off to protest the Trump administration, feels a little bit less like an attempt to attract and retain talent as it is an attempt to push a political agenda.
Nevertheless, as the Washington Post points out today, companies like Fauna of San Francisco are offering their employees unlimited paid time off to protest Trump in any way they see fit.
Fauna, a San Francisco-based database start-up, recently began allowing its 13 employees to take unlimited paid leave to participate in rallies, vote, write letters to elected officials and take part in other civic activities. Before February, employees could take time off on an as-needed basis. But the political climate — and polarization — after President Trump’s inauguration called for more defined measures, said Amna Pervez, director of recruiting and retention.
“Since there’s been such a divide in our country, we felt we should be very explicit about our policy,” Pervez said, adding that the company also provides unlimited vacation time. “We want our employees to know that we absolutely support the betterment of our country. People can take whatever they feel like they need to make a meaningful difference.”
A number of other start-ups, including Turbine Labs, Buoyant and Jelly Industries, have signed on to do the same. The new policies come as technology firms and other companies take a stand against the Trump administration’s plan to tighten restrictions for foreign workers. On Tuesday, Trump was expected to sign an executive order that would impose new restrictions on H1-B visas, a type of temporary work visa often used by firms to recruit and employ highly skilled workers.
Meanwhile, even Facebook joined in on the trend allowing employees to take May 1st off to attend a “pro-immigration” rally…
Facebook, for example, is allowing its employees to take time off to participate in pro-immigration rallies on May 1. The company, which relies heavily on foreign workers, informed employees and contractors last week that they would not be penalized for missing work to protest, Bloomberg News reported Tuesday.
“At Facebook, we’re committed to fostering an inclusive workplace where employees feel comfortable expressing their opinions and speaking up about issues that are important to them,” a company spokesman said in an email. “We support our people in recognizing International Workers’ Day and other efforts to raise awareness for safe and equitable employment conditions.”
“We will define this as we grow,” Gómez said. “But my hope is that policies like this become the norm. When Google began giving out free lunches, everyone else followed. Why should this be any different?”
Of course, this latest trend is afflicting not just Silicon Valley but our institutions of higher learning as well. As we pointed out last night, one ASU professor recently allowed her students to opt out of a final exam in exchange for organizing a campus protest of Trump.
But don’t worry, there are some ground rules for Silicon Valley’s snowflakes: no violence, or activities that make others feel threatened…but what good is a disaffected liberal protest without a little property destruction to stick it to ‘the man?’