The dating app Bumble recently announced that all of their employees will be given two weeks of paid vacation time to be spaced out a week at a time over the course of each year. In June, Founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd issued a company-wide week vacation in addition to their usual time off allowances because of the burnout all teams were feeling. A statement from Bumble added, “As vaccination rates have increased and restrictions have begun to ease, we wanted to give our teams around the world an opportunity to shut off and focus on themselves for a week.”
What? An employer who cares more about the mental health of its workers than the bottom line? A company willing to pause in a business world that doesn’t stop so that its greatest assets will keep showing up? The almost unbelievable part is that this is just a drop in the bucket of the incredible perks the company offers to its 700 global employees.
Bumble also promises its employees the benefits of paid “compassion leave”, paid leave if you are the victim of violence or abuse, a minimum of 12 weeks a year to take care of a sick loved one, and a minimum of six months paid time off for a birth, surrogacy, or adoption of a child. Oh, and at least four weeks are given as flexible transition time for caregivers who are heading back to work after time away from the office.
After a global pandemic sent all of us to work from home, Bumble is now leaving it up to its employees to choose if they want to remain at home or head back to the office. They only requirement is that they work in the country where they are employed.
Bumble not only encourages a healthy work-life balance, but they actually provide the resources for that balance to occur. President of Bumble, Tariq Shaukat, says it was, “increasingly clear that the way that we work, and need to work, has changed and our new policies are a reflection of what really matters and how we can best support our teams in both their work and life.”
Where do I send my resume and to whom do I address my cover letter?
I wish this didn’t blow my mind, but Bumble is goals when it comes to the way they treat their employees. The company is setting the bar high and so much higher than most company’s standard offerings, specifically in the United States—but it’s where the bar should be. It’s embarrassing and sickening that what should be expected and then offered is seen as special treatment or handouts.
The U.S. is the only advanced economy that doesn’t guarantee its workers paid vacation time or offer paid medical or family leave. On average, Americans work about 34.4 hours a week, and have receive roughly 17 days of paid vacation days a year. Most of us spend too much time working, worrying about work, and burning ourselves out because of it.
I’m fine with the expectation that people need to work to support themselves; I’m not okay that each company and employer gets to hold their employees hostage with threats of job loss or financial withholdings if an employer—for any reason—can’t live and work within a company that doesn’t offer paid time off or supported unpaid time off with the promise of a position being held while benefits are still offered.
People shouldn’t need to be physically or mentally unable to work before they are allowed to take time off though. Vacation days and paid leave offer preventative health care, increase productivity, expand creative thinking, and boost morale — and the folks at Bumble recognize this. Working too much or in a toxic environment can make you sick.
Medical bills are the number one reported reason why Americans declare bankruptcy. People need money and health insurance to pay for their medical bills. People rely on jobs for money and health insurance. But when you can’t work and don’t have an employer or insurance company willing to cover expenses, you’re fucked.
Yet, America is the wealthiest country with has the greatest wealth gap among its citizens. And the people who don’t struggle with money or the ability to take breaks when needed seem to feed into the notion that if you just work harder, longer, faster, you will get ahead. You too can have the riches America has to offer. Never mind the healthy dose of privilege, financial safety net, emotional and mental health support, and the luxury of physical health these people don’t mention.
The United States doesn’t have a basic national income or universal health care to provide security, basic needs, and safety nets to our citizens. Biden has proposed basic universal income for kids and also a plan that would give workers 12 weeks of paid medical and family leave and at least seven paid sick days a year.
COVID-19 showed the devastating impact the loss of work has on self-employed people, gig workers, and freelancers. According to Pew Research Center, roughly 16 million Americans are self-employed and make up about 30% of the workforce. I have been self-employed for over ten years and while I don’t have the benefit of any paid sick time or vacation days, I’m more fortunate than others to either plan for unpaid time or still work, but less, even when I’m supposed to be offline.
A pandemic was not something any of us planned for. I was able to take advantage of some of the government’s relief packages for self-employed earners and Biden’s plans could open the door for self-employed workers to pay into a tax plan that allow for us to also receive paid medical leave. We shouldn’t have to rely on a pandemic to be offered a small amount of protection.
All employers should be protected and taken care of by the companies they work for. Bumble is goals, but the example they are setting should be the rule — not the exception.
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