Lonely Planet Writer

How about a paid vacation to one of 16 amazing places?

A US tech company is giving new meaning to the term “paid holidays” after revealing it quite literally foots the bill for its employees to travel abroad when on leave.

Chicago company offers holiday travel perks to employees.
Chicago company offers holiday travel perks to employees. Image by Will Jackson / CC BY 2.0

Basecamp, which is based in Chicago, has been giving each of its employees a special gift at the end of every working year.

If they have been with the company less than twelve months, it might be as simple as a night on the town but for those working there longer, last year’s gift was a “paid vacation to one of 16 amazing locations around the world”.

The company, which specialises in software for project management, also offers a range of other perks to its employees.

Chief Executive Jason Fried explained that workers switched over to a four-day week for four months from the beginning of May until the end of August.

Other perks include a $100-a-month fitness allowance, a $100-a-month massage allowance (to “stay loose”) and a one month sabbatical every three years.

The company also has extremely generous entitlements – by US standards anyway – for annual leave, along with maternity and paternity leave.

Last but not least, Basecamp has an honour system in place for paying expenses to its staff … one which certainly would not be well suited to the world of politics.

Mooloolaba Beach, Australia.
Employees could pick somewhere like Mooloolaba Beach, Australia. Image by GO Holiday / CC BY 2.0

Mr Fried said: “Every employee based in the US will be issued a company American Express card in [their] name. [They] can use this card for any work-related expenses, such as travel, software, or office supplies … no pre-approval needed, and no limits – just be reasonable.”

Unusual perks are becoming more and more common as firms, especially in the technology sector, do battle to attract the best staff.

Google is among the best known with its free food, bowling alleys and gyms, and many companies have been following suit.

Most airlines offer at least some free travel for staff but Southwest Airlines, based in Dallas, gives free flights to employees, their spouses, their children and even their parents.