Crafting a Time-Off Policy for Remote Workers

Crafting a Time-Off Policy for Remote Workers

At Fire Engine RED, we’re a 100 percent virtual company with no home office. And “simply different” is more than our tagline–it’s our philosophy. It applies to the work we do for our clients (colleges and universities) AND to the way we treat our team members.

So, what’s “simply different” about our time-off policy? We built it around the concepts of responsibility and trust. It works because we hire people who are independent and can make good decisions and judgement calls–that is, EXACTLY the kind of people you want on your remote team!

Here are some highlights of our time-off policy…see if they make sense for your remote workers or company.


Traditionally, our full-time employees accrued vacation time throughout the year. However, our CEO & Chief Creative Officer Shelly Spiegel didn’t want our people to have to wait for time to accrue before they took vacation. She changed it so full-time employees have access to ALL of their allotted vacation time starting on January 1st. That means team members can take vacation at any time throughout the year with their direct manager’s approval.

Our employees start with three weeks of vacation, and gain another week after just two years of working for Fire Engine RED. Also, team members may carry over up to five days of remaining, unused vacation time into the next calendar year.

Out Time

We offer up to four hours per day of “out” time (not including lunch). It gives our employees the flexibility to take care of things like:

  • School functions
  • Vet appointments
  • Picking up a relative from the airport
  • Dropping off/picking up kids
  • Exercise

Taking “out” time doesn’t affect our employees’ vacation balances. All we ask is that team members don’t abuse the policy, they get approval for out time, and they make it up as necessary.


We don’t allocate a specific amount of sick time; rather, we tell team members: “Take it when you need it, and get well soon!” Employees continue to be paid by the company if they’re out sick for up to 10 consecutive workdays.

The company also grants unlimited sick time for any planned medical-related appointments and procedures. For example:

  • Doctor appointments
  • Dental appointments
  • Specialist appointments
  • Surgeries and procedures

Also, let’s say a team member’s kid gets sick and has to stay home from school. The team member can use his/her sick time to care for a sick child (or for a spouse, partner, or parent).


Shelly, our CEO, once worked in a law firm that assigned the number of paid time off days for bereavement, based on how closely related the employee was to the deceased(!). We know you can’t quantify or categorize the difficulty of losing a loved one, whether they’re related to you or not. So, our policy says that our team members may take up to three days of paid leave due to the passing “of someone close to them”…not just for an immediate family member.

Life Happens

As they say, “life happens,” and so do unforeseen events. If an unexpected event happens to a team member, he or she can take time off to get things back on track (and be paid by the company while doing so). For example (these “life happens” events actually happened to our employees)…

  • Your defective washing machine explodes and floods your house.
  • Your fiancée’s car gets stuck in a blizzard while on the freeway and has to be dug out.
  • Your pet has to be taken to the vet after eating your Apple TV remote control.
  • Your power goes out due to a hurricane, tornado, or other natural disaster.

We also, of course, provide paid time off for holidays (nine days), parental leave (for new moms and dads), jury service, and voting (not for The Voice, though).

Why do we provide all this time off? As Shelly puts it, “We want our people to use their vacation time for…wait for it…their vacations!”

Our “simply different” time-off policy is right for our “simply different” company…it could be right for YOUR remote workers or company as well!

chuck vadunChuck Vadun is communications director of Fire Engine RED, a 100 percent virtual company. He spent his last vacation driving a minivan through eight western states.

By Chuck Vadun | Categories: Remote Management

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