The prospect of unlimited paid time off (PTO) is one of the most prized benefits a worker could dream of. It’s a way for an organization to signal to prospective employees that it values their work-life balance, their ability to manage their own workload, and that perhaps the success of its workers is measured by more than output and productivity.
Since 2010, the Law Center’s own free time off policy has stated that we seek,
…to balance the individual needs of each staff member with the needs of the organization as a whole by providing a mechanism for self-regulation, group feedback, and transparent accounting.
And then we lived happily ever after because the Law Center figured out the work-life balance of our staff. Nope! Many Law Center staff do take full advantage of this wonderful benefit. But despite this generous policy, there is still a lot of work we need to do to overcome years of indoctrination that our worth is measured by our productivity; that burn out, deadline crunches, and work overload are indicators of importance. What is even more startling is we noticed in 2020 and 2021, people seemed to be taking less time off, even though we had built a culture of free time off and valuing work-life balance. It was particularly acute with staff of color. Why was this happening?
The urgency of the times, the growth of our work, the transitions of staff and personnel made it hard for people to feel able to take time off. But the most revealing response was that many Law Center staff shared they felt guilty taking time off knowing someone else would have to pick up the slack. In a worker self-directed nonprofit, the responsibility to steward the organization falls on us all and we were feeling the pressure to stay accountable to the collective. Unlimited PTO was premised on our ability to express our individual needs… but what about our collective needs?
Through many discussions, we came to realize that having a few collective rests throughout the year would allow for us to support individuals needs through collective efforts. This practice was inspired by the wisdom inherent in the cyclical turn of seasons – hibernations and migrations, periods of wild abundance and of decomposition, moments to attune to transition.
We schedule our seasonal rests at the beginning of the year to make planning childcare and family vacations easier. We still have folks who will need to do some work during our collective rests — payroll and other time sensitive admin work — so we support them taking time off during other times in the year as well.
Our next collective seasonal rest is September 26th - September 30th. Our email responders will be on and office doors will be closed. It is our hope that you and your organizations can find ways to do the same.
New Resource! Legal Toolkit on Funding Economic Democracy
We’re excited to share this new Legal Toolkit for anyone working to get funding to deeply democratic organizations, like cooperatives and worker-directed nonprofits. Lack of legal understanding makes many funders unwilling to fund cooperatives and other projects for economic democracy. This Toolkit dispels myths and sets some records straight: Foundations and 501(c)(3)s CAN fund and invest in cooperatives. Foundations most often CAN spend a lot more of their endowments. In fact, we believe it’s time for foundations to move a LOT more money into democratic organizations. We hope this Toolkit can help make that happen!
Worker Co-op Conference Highlights
The 2022 Worker Co-op Conference earlier this month was held in Philadelphia. Over 480 people attended the 2-day conference where Law Center staff met with policymakers, activists, entrepreneurs, organizers, and artists to learn, share, and embrace our comrades who we’ve been separated from for over two years. Check out photos and read about our experience here!
Hypha is regenerative instrastructure
In a world of fast moving technological solutions and even faster moving climate destruction - a new community called Hypha launches this week. Hypha is a membership platform that makes it easy to connect your donations to sustain climate based climate solutions.
"Hypha is about regenerative relationships and centering the adaptation economy. This is a community-sustained solution for regenerative economies. We exist to create sustainability and ease outside of the systems that currently exist and inside of relationships based on reciprocity." - Ashoka Finley, CEO and Founder of Hypha.
Help sustain the Law Center
We are coming into a year where we'll need additional support from our community to sustain our existing work and expand it into new areas and projects. If you appreciate the work we do and the organizations that the Sustainable Economies Law Center supports, please donate today!