'Social justice PTO' is the hot new perk for companies with activist employees


womens march

Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Vacations, sick days, and maternity leave all serve their purpose. But what about paid time off to exercise some social activism?


Around the US, a growing number of companies have started offering "social justice PTO," Susan Johston reports for Fast Company.

In addition to the more boilerplate leave time, social justice PTO gives employees a few days each month to protest, vote, and participate in marches.

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"We hire activists, we look for people who are so incredibly passionate about the environment that they want to protest," Dean Carter, Patagonia's vice president of human resources, recently told Fast Company. "If you're hiring a wild horse because of its passion and independence and then you keep it in the pen, that's ridiculous."

There are some industries for which social justice PTO may never arrive. Many traditional news companies, for instance, strictly forbid employees from outward displays of political affiliation. Low-wage work often looks unfavorably on job candidates with arrest records due to protest history.


But at companies with social justice PTO, personal opinions are largely seen as positives, not negatives.

The valet app Luxe, babysitter locator Helpr, Burton Snowboards, and, of course, Patagonia, all offer employees some amount of time to ditch work to support causes they care about, Fast Company reports.

Companies may be getting more socially conscious in response to their employees' desire for personal expression. Twenty- and thirty-somethings tend to be far more inclined to speak out about injustices (even if it's on social media) and much less likely to accept the status quo as fixed.

Employers, looking to keep those workers happy, may be responding with a perk they actually care about.