“Paid” Protestors

Some companies will give you time off to protest.

Photo: astoller/Flickr

With the political climate as turbulent as it currently is, many people are balancing the need to do their jobs and make money with their desire to participate in the various demonstrations staged across the country in protest of the new administration. Paid time off is one way to fulfill this desire; if the time offered by your employer is truly discretionary, you shoudld be able to use it for however you see fit, whether it’s a “personal” day or sick leave or whatever else.

One Silicon Valley startup is going the extra mile for its employees and making it explicitly clear that they’re more than welcome to use their paid time off to participate in protest.

The newest Silicon Valley perk? Paid time off to protest Trump.

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.

This comes as the president is exepcted to sign yet another executive order that severely restricts H1-B visas, which many companies use to recruit highly skilled workers in tech and other industries. Facebook recently announced that employees who take time off to participate in portests on May 1 won’t be penalized and will also go the extra mile to check with their vendors to make sure that they’re not punishing their employees for protesting, either.

Of course, if your company does have discretionary time off, you can do whatever you want with it. But something about using the time off to do something other than take a vacation or stay at home on the couch recovering from the stomach flu feels disingenuous — like you’re cheating a system that was technically set up for you to do whatever it is you want with that time. We’ve written at length about how American workers are reluctant to take the time thats given to them by their employers, be it parental leave, sick leave or anything else.

Many Americans Believe We Abuse Paid Leave at Work

If were both reluctant to take the time off but also feel that our colleagues who do take the time off are abusing those policies, who’s to say that if policies like this were widespread, there wouldn’t actually be abuse of the system? Maybe some people use the excuse of taking a protest day to go do something other than protesting or writing letters to their senators or making calls. This is a cynical way of looking at things. But as someone who in college took a self-righteous day off from all of my courses to protest the bombing of Baghdad mostly out of the desire not to attend any classes, I can see both sides.

Still, this is nice, in a world that feels increasingly full of bad, so let’s just take it for that.

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