Goldman Sachs says senior staff can take as much time off as they want

Goldman Sachs says senior staff can take as much time off as they want

Goldman Sachs has told its most senior bankers they will be allowed to take as much holiday as they want so they can “rest and recharge”. 

Under a new “flexible vacation” scheme introduced from May 1, partners and managing directors will be free to “take time off when needed without a fixed vacation day entitlement”, the Wall Street bank told staff in a memo last month.

More junior bankers, who will still be entitled to take only a fixed number of paid days off, have been given a minimum of two extra days of holiday per year. Precise details of holiday allowances for each region would be communicated separately, the bank told staff.

Employees at all levels will be required to spend at least three weeks away from work annually from 2023, including at least one full week of consecutive days off.

The changes follow scrutiny of Goldman’s working practices last year when a group of junior investment banking analysts told management they were working in “inhumane” conditions, clocking up an average of 95 hours a week with five hours of sleep a night.

The analysts presented a slide deck with proposals such as capping their working week at 80 hours and respecting an existing policy that junior bankers should not work between Friday at 9pm and Sunday morning.

In the memo to staff on April 22, seen by the Financial Times, Goldman said it was “committed to providing our people with differentiated benefits and offerings to support wellbeing and resilience”. 

“As we continue to take care of our people at every stage of their careers and focus on the experience of our partners and managing directors, we are pleased to announce enhancements and changes to our global vacation program designed to further support time off to rest and recharge,” it said.

The removal of caps on the amount of time off senior bankers can take, first reported by the Sunday Telegraph, will apply globally.

It mirrors “unlimited” vacation policies adopted by many employers in the tech sector but which are less common at financial services companies. Unlimited leave schemes have attracted criticism from bodies, including the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, because they can result in staff taking fewer days off.

The changes by Goldman come as banks engage in a war for talent that has resulted in hefty pay rises and new initiatives to improve work-life balance.

Citigroup has announced plans for a new investment banking hub in the southern Spanish city of Malaga where junior analysts will be asked to work just eight hours a day and have their weekends protected. In return, they will be paid about half of the $100,000 or more starting salary handed to their first-year peers in London or New York. The sums paid to junior bankers have risen markedly in recent years with the struggle to retain overworked staff exacerbated by the boom in dealmaking during the pandemic.

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