Kenneth Cole Continues to Prioritize Wellness by Giving Full-Time Employees Unlimited Vacation

Kenneth Cole Productions Inc. has joined the growing list of companies offering unlimited paid time off (PTO).

The New York-based fashion company announced late yesterday in a memo sent to staff (and shared with FN) that it is transitioning its PTO policy to offer unlimited vacation to all full-time employees.

Under the new policy, KCP said it will have no cap on the number of paid days off that workers can take, including for personal, family, health or other reasons. This is in addition to the existing government holidays already in effect, as well as the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, when KCP will close its offices and “the entire company will have off to recharge and spend time with friends and family.”

The move comes as part of KCP’s larger focus on wellness and mental health. In 2019, founder Kenneth Cole helped to found The Mental Health Coalition, a large-scale effort aimed at bringing together influential nonprofits, businesses, brands, celebrities and influencers in a coordinated effort to destigmatize mental health conditions.

And throughout the past few years, amid the extreme uncertainties of the pandemic, Cole has only increased the commitment to the cause. Last year, his brand launched a campaign called “Feel Your Feelings” — a call for people to identify and honor their wide range of emotions — and opened a pop-up shop in New York to benefit the Mental Health Coalition.

In its memo to employees, KCP wrote, “One of our core values as a company is to prioritize wellness in all aspects of who we are, what we do, and what we stand for (and stand in). As part of that mission, we think it is essential that everyone has the freedom and flexibility to get their work done while also being able to take the time they need to maintain balance and to be able to take care of themselves and each other.”

Jed Berger, president of KCP, recently told FN that wellness and mental health are now a cornerstone of the company and will be present in every way it shows up for the consumer, from marketing messages and retail initiatives to new product launches, like its line of CBD-based skin and body care products that debuted this month.

The shift to unlimited PTO has become increasingly popular in recent years, particularly in the technology and banking sectors — though a 2022 employee benefits survey by the Society for Human Resource Management found that only 6% of employers are offering unlimited leave. Major companies that have adopted the policy include Microsoft, Netflix, Twitter, Goldman Sachs, Salesforce and Adobe.

Experts point to several benefits for employers, including the ability to fight burnout among workers and to use the policy as a recruiting tool. However, some critics argue that employees often end up taking less time off than with traditional PTO policies due to confusion over the appropriate amount of vacation. And under these plans, companies are not required to pay out unused vacation time when an employee exits the organization.

It’s recommended that companies create a clear set of guidelines for employees to ensure that time is used — and not abused. In its note to workers, KCP shared two stipulations, saying that unlimited PTO is allowed “provided that you are getting all of your work done and that the timing of your days off works for the rest of your team.”

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