Not going to lie, if my soon-to-be boss told me to take a vacation, with pay, before my first day of work I'd probably burst into laughter and say something embarrassing like "I'm sorry, I think I just hallucinated — did you say you'd pay me to relax?" Well as it turns out the "pre-cation," AKA a mandatory two weeks of PTO before you begin working for a company, is a very real thing. However, as a skeptic I can't help but ask: what's the catch?
According to an article in Slate, Startups like 42Floors, a San Francisco-based real estate search engine, have started implementing the hot new perk — which does, in fact, involve taking two weeks of PTO before starting your new job. The reason? Jason Freedmen, the co-founder and CEO for 42Floors, tells Slate that he doesn't want his new hires to be exhausted from their previous job before they begin working for his company. Freedman even recalls one occasion when he offered someone a job plus the "pre-cation" — and how after the candidate accepted and chilled out for 14 days, "came in so refreshed and energized."
Seeing as the average work week has reached 46.7 hours, according to a new Gallup poll, it only makes sense that Freedman would encourage new employees to take such a long and much-needed vacation before starting at 42Floors. There's also the fact that the US has no mandatory vacation policy, and that, according to the same Gallup poll, over 20 percent of Americans say they're working between 50 and 59 hours a week. In other words, Freedman's offer sounds so great, you might not even hear the part where he tells you to "work your ass off" — as he said to Slate — when you get back.
Which brings me to the catch.
In response to Slate's spotlight on the "pre-cation," Salon points out that that perks like pre-cations aren't as glorious as they sound, going so far as to call them "illusions." Illusions because once you begin working, you probably won't stop. The article also sheds light on the fact that employees today are often too scared to take time off out of fear they may be seen as "expendable." Valleywag also notes that many tech bosses think employees should be "married to their jobs." In other words: pre-cations might be a way of getting more work and more hours out of these future hires.
At the end of the day, it's pretty hard to say no to something like a mandatory two weeks off. However, as pro-work perks as I am (free food tastes better, amiright guys?), getting all of my free time up front just doesn't feel right. Then again, I've never been faced with the proposal. I'm curious to see if this trend catches on with more companies, and if it really does lead to more over-worked employees.